Initial Publication Date: May 23, 2013

Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University

Information for this profile was provided by Sen Chiao, Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The Department of Meteorology and Climate Science is the only one of its kind in the entire California State University system. We provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the atmosphere and prepare them for careers in the atmospheric sciences. Faculty maintain active research programs that benefit the science community and enhance our students' learning environment.

Strengths of this program

We offer BS and MS degrees in Meteorology, along with Minors in Meteorology and 'Atmospheric and Seismic Hazards'. We also offer a variety of General Education courses in meteorology.

The BS degree is designed to be completed in four years for entering freshman, and in as little as two years for qualified transfer students. Our BS Meteorology, concentration in Climate Science students should consult their four-year roadmap to see which courses you should take and when. Our faculty have a wide range of specialities, allowing students access to many fields of meteorology and climate science. The department is also proud of its tradition of forecasting excellence.

The MS degree may be completed in as little as two years, although this is not the usual. For a qualified entering student, the emphasis would normally be on class work during the first year, and on an original research project during the second year. Students must show competence in a number of areas for admission to candidacy. For students without a meteorology background, this usually requires taking upper-level meteorology classes during the first year of study.

Types of students served

Overall, 93% from California, 5% from other states, and 2% international students.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

BS Meteorology

  1. Be able to read and interpret various meteorological diagrams, and develop and present a short-to-medium-term forecast with considerable skill.
  2. Be able to explain meteorological phenomena at various scales in terms of basic physical and dynamic processes, including radiative forcing, thermodynamics, microphysics, and dynamics.
  3. Know the design and use of meteorological instruments, and techniques for collecting and interpreting the data.
  4. Be able to explain current climate in terms of basic physical and dynamical processes, and explain the mechanisms responsible for climate change.
  5. Be able to explain ideas and results through written, statistical, graphical, oral and computer-based forms of communication.
BS Meteorology - Concentration in ClImate Science

  1. Be able to explain current climate in terms of basic physical and dynamic processes.
  2. Be able to explain the mechanisms responsible for climate change.
  3. Know and be able to practice the techniques used for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting various forms of climate data.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to synthesize concepts from a broad range of disciplines, and apply them to problems in climate science.
  5. Be able to explain ideas and results through written, statistical, graphical, oral and computer-based forms of communication.
MS Meteorology Program

  1. Be able to conduct an independent research project, and communicate the results in written and oral form in acceptable professional formats.
  2. Be able to explain meteorological phenomena in terms of advanced physical and dynamic concepts.
  3. Understand and be able to apply advanced numerical methods to solve atmospheric and climate science problems.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

How program goals are assessed

The department participates fully in all assessment activities. These include:

  • Program-level assessment. This involves the development of Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs, listed below), and an ongoing assessment of the extent to which we are meeting our PLOs. This activity is driven by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the forthcoming accreditation.
  • Every year, the faculty choose one PLO to focus on. At various times, the faculty meet to discuss the ability of our majors to meet our expectations as expressed in one of our PLOs. If we are satisfied in students' abilities, we make no changes to the curriculum. If we feel that students are struggling in a particular area, we discuss ways in which we can improve student understanding and learning. Options may include: offering classes later in the curriculum (so that students are better prepared); moving some parts of the curriculum into a different class; modifying our teaching methods.
  • Assessment in individual classes. This activity is conducted on an ongoing basis by each faculty member in "their" classes. For example, Professor Bridger is responsible for assement in her undergraduate Dynamics classes (METR 121A, B). Individual faculty members develop Learning Outcomes (LOs) for each class, and these are shown on the greensheets.
  • General Education Assessment. We offer four General Education (GE) classes: two core GE classes (METR 10 & 12; both "area B"), and two SJSU Studies classes (METR 112 & 113). In addition, we offer METR 100W every year: assessment of this class falls under the aegis of GE Assessment. The campus GE program has LOs associated with each area. We conduct assessment in each of our GE classes at least once per year, discuss the results at faculty meetings, and report our findings to Undergraduate Studies.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

First-Time Freshmen: 4-year rate: 80%

Undergraduate Transfers: 4-year rate: 100%, 2-year rate: 33.3%

Careers pursued by our alumni

Virtually all of our graduates over the past 10 years are employed in various fields of meteorology and climate science, including those in private industry, academia, and the public sector such as the National Weather Service and the US Armed Forces.

Program Description (Acrobat (PDF) 51kB May7 13)

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements