Prospective undergraduate students

Undergraduate teaching is a fundamental part of the department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences (AOS) at McGill.

At the undergraduate level, the Department offers a broad range of courses and degree programs. We offer two Bachelor of Science programs, the Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences major, and the interdepartmental joint program in Physics and AOS. An Honours option is also available. Our graduates go on to graduate school in the sciences, the weather service industry, provincial governments and environmental consulting and engineering firms, and other jobs in the private and public sectors.

Prospective applicants will find all information about the AOS undergraduate program on our web site. We recommend that you study the research interests of the AOS faculty, check the list of courses we offer, and visit our undergraduates’ society (AOSSUM) page. Below we answer the three most important questions you may have when looking at university program's to apply to:

Why AOS?

Our undergraduate programs are designed to provide students with a background to help solve the challenging problems of short- and long-range weather and climate predictions, as well as global warming and air quality issues. Within this framework, students will learn about specific phenomena such as severe weather climate, climate variability, the ozone hole and air-sea interactions.

Our programs offer a wide variety of courses in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.  These courses are designed to help students understand the fundamentals and to expose them to the advanced research topics in the field.  In addition, students have opportunities to take courses offered by other departments and programs such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Earth & Planetary Sciences etc.

AOS is a smaller community within a very large university. So the students get the advantages of the diversity of a large university with the close-knit relationships in a smaller department. In other words, our class sizes are small and professors are approachable. All students are part of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Society of Undergraduates at McGill (AOSSUM) which organizes many social and educational field trips for its members.

Graduates of our department move forward to important positions in industry, government, and the academic world. An undergraduate degree in Atmospheric Science can lead to a professional career in government service or private industry. The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) has traditionally been the main employer of graduating students, but certain provincial governments and environmental consulting and engineering firms also employ graduates. In addition, there are other federal departments as well as many provincial government groups, which employ atmospheric and oceanic scientists in all parts of Canada.

How is our undergraduate program unique?

The study of atmospheric science is based largely on physics and applied mathematics. Consequently, all required courses, except those at the introductory level, generally have prerequisites or co-requisites in physics, mathematics, and atmospheric science.

One of the goals of the discipline is to develop the understanding necessary to improve our ability to predict the weather. However, atmospheric science is more than weather forecasting; an important area of study is the possible changes in global climate caused by the changing chemical composition of the atmosphere. The approach is always quantitative.

Like other parts of physics, atmospheric science attempts to create theoretical models of its complex subject, as a means of analyzing the motion and composition of the air, its thermodynamic behaviour, and its interaction with radiation and with the solid or liquid surface beneath it. There are two research approaches:

The atmosphere may be studied as a large ocean of gas by the methods of fluid mechanics: winds, circulation patterns, turbulence, and energy and momentum exchanges are the ideas employed in this approach.
The atmosphere may be studied from the point of view of its detailed physics: how water condenses in the air, how droplets can make rain, how sunlight warms the ground and the ground warms the air above it by radiation and convection, and how the atmosphere and ocean interact to shape the weather and climate.

A comprehensive understanding requires both approaches, and this is reflected in our curriculum.

For a detailed description of the programs, please visit the Undergraduate Programs page. Click on the 'Courses offered in 2018-19' tab on the Current undergraduate students page to view the list of current semester courses for AOS.

How do I apply? 

Admissions are handled centrally at McGill. You will find all the relevant information here . Please take the time to explore the admission procedure and curricula outlined on the University’s admissions page.

For more general information on the admissions process, please contact:

1) Service Point, 3415 McTavish St. (corner Sherbrooke)

2)  Student Affairs Office, Faculty of Science, Dawson Hall, Ground Floor, 398-4210.

Further information on our undergraduate programs can be obtained from our tim.merlis [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Further%20information%20on%20AOS%20undergraduate%20program) (Undergraduate Director). For more information on the department, please contact our graduateinfo.aos [at] mcgill.ca (Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator).