Meteorology, Jackson State University
Program Design & Assessment
The Jackson State University Meteorology Program (JSUMP) is designed to enhance the number of minority professional meteorologists and boost the number of those professionals available to pursue advanced studies within the atmospheric sciences. The program is housed in the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Science, and Geosciences. At the origin of the program in 1975, JSU was the only historically black college/university (HBCU) offering an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science or meteorology. The number of African American meteorology graduates is still small, but JSU has graduated about 40% of those who have received degrees in recent decades.
Types of students served
JSUMP serves the largely African-American undergraduate student population of JSU. More than 85% of graduates from the program in recent years have been African-American. The program is specifically designed to help minority students overcome both real and perceived obstacles.
The goal of JSUMP is to increase minority student opportunities for graduate education and for successful careers in meteorology. The Bachelor of Science in Meteorology prepares students for careers in meteorology and for graduate study in meteorology or related fields. The program also teaches students from other disciplines about basic characteristics and phenomena of the atmosphere.
Design features that allow goals to be met
Faculty Research - JSU has developed into one of the premier HBCUs in the country in terms of research funding. Faculty in the Meteorology program have strong research portfolios and are well respected in the field. Strong faculty research also provides opportunities for students to gain valuable research experience.
Internships, Mentoring, and Student Research - Personal interaction and one-on-one contact with students is a high priority in the program as well as the department as a whole. Mentoring focuses both on student learning and professional development and involves the faculty members and student forming a strong professional connection around a particular meteorological issue that both focus on. There is also strong support for students to find and take part in collaborations outside the department (e.g. the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program of UCAR).
Outreach - Faculty and students in the program actively reach out to the community. Activities include speaking to high school science classes, serving on scholarship and awards panels, and judging science fairs. They also hold a 1 week "Weather Camp" as a part of the summer camps program at JSU which exposes high school students to the opportunities to study atmospheric science.Curriculum Development and Preparation for Graduate School - The curriculum has been tailored to improve students preparation for graduate school as well as to more closely align with current requirements to work as a professional meteorologist. For example, students are required to take part in a mentored research project during their senior year, even if they are not already being supported by a research grant.
The graduation rate for the Meteorology program is around 80% (in 4-6 years). Over the history or the program, approximately 60 students have graduated with a Bachelor's degree.
Careers pursued by our alumni
Of the ~60 alumni who have received BS degrees from the program:
- ~25% work with the National Weather Service
- ~25% are broadcast weather personnel with television stations
- ~20% have gone on to graduate school
Courses and Sequencing
Diagram of course sequencing and requirements
White, L.D., R.S. Reddy, H. Liu, Q. Williams, and J. Shoemake (2013). Thirty Years of Meteorological Education at a Historically Black University, Journal of Geoscience Education, 61, 20–27