Doctor of Philosophy in Hydrometeorology

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*This notation added Spring 2023.


The UA's Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences now offers the nation's first graduate degree program (MS, PHD), with a major in Hydrometeorology. The terrestrial water cycle includes both the atmospheric component--water vapor, clouds, and precipitation--and the land component--surface and subsurface runoff, infiltration, evapotranspiration, snowmelt, river flow--which play a major role in the weather and climate and strongly affects human activities.

Historically, the science of hydrology has focused on land-related processes and has relied on prescribed atmospheric inputs, generally from observations or atmospheric model outputs, or through empirical estimates derived from conventional meteorological measurements. In contrast, while the atmospheric sciences generate hydrologically-relevant forecasts, they tend to avoid dealing with the details of processes influencing feedbacks generated by the land surface. In establishing a firm linkage between the two, the program asks the following questions:

  • What is the science involved with the interface of water in the atmosphere and water on the ground?
  • What are the ramifications for predictive capabilities when these processes are incorporated into coupled numerical weather and climate models?
  • What are the new applications in water quality, and how are water quality issues linked to precipitation and related runoff issues?
  • How is the full understanding of the hydrologic cycle from "white water" to "blue water"--from precipitation to streams to oceans to water vapor to precipitation--related to the advancements in prediction and related societal benefits that link back to the water quality issue?

The purpose of the program is to:

  • Educate students by providing them with (1) a well-rounded background in the fields of atmospheric, hydrologic, and systems sciences, (2) the tools and methods for numerical modeling, prediction, and data assimilation (surface hydrology, weather and climate), and (3) the sensors, data sources, and data manipulation tools, including remote-sensing and geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Partner with various national and international weather and climate forecasting agencies to identify critical hydrometeorological knowledge gaps, to support, encourage, and facilitate research in multidisciplinary hydrometeorological science, and to work towards improved forecasts and forecast support, particularly over arid and semiarid regions such as the Western US
  • Serve the hydrometeorological science and operational communities by coordinating meetings and workshops seeking to build consensus related to hydrometeorological science and to assist in the transfer of advances in understanding into the decision-making arena

See the PHD Hydrometeorology Handbook (link coming soon) for full details.


Apply at the Graduate College website: Click on the Apply Now button for the Program of Study "Hydrometeorology (PHD)."  This is an electronic application process (paper applications not accepted).  You will be required to upload a variety of documents, including: 

  • All Applicants:
  • Scanned copies of original transcripts (do not send original transcripts with official seal and signature until after you are accepted into the program)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (submit online)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of research interests
  • (GRE-ONLY WAIVED AY2023-2024) Report of GRE scores (minimum Quantitative 157, Written 4.5)
  • International Applicants Only: Scanned copies of TOEFL Report of Scores (minimum 550 or 9, minimum IELTS 7)
  • Graduate Assistantship Application form (optional)

GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona:  4832

ETS Major Field Codes for Hydrometeorology MS:  You won't need a code, as all GRE scores reported to the University of Arizona are accessible by all departments.

Admissions deadlines:

  • Domestic Applicants:  February 1 for Fall Semester
  • International Applicants:  January 15 for Fall Semester


The department attempts to support all students as research or teaching assistants.  Research assistantships may be arranged with individual faculty members. Other funding opportunities are provided by the Graduate College at their Financial Resources website.


Undergraduate course prerequisites for admission:

  • 1 year college chemistry sequence
  • 1 year college physics sequence
  • 1 course in fluid mechanics or aerodynamics
  • 1 course in calculus-based statistics for physical sciences or engineering
  • Math courses: calculus 1, calculus 2, vector calculus, introductory differential equations

The degree requires a minimum of 63 semester units.  Requirements include but are not limited to:


Fundamentals in Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences (complete all 4 courses = total 12 semester units)

  • ATMO 541A Dynamic Meteorology (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 551A Physical Meteorology (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 519 Fundamentals of Surface Water Hydrology (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 524 Hydroclimatology (3 semester units)


Numerical Weather and Climate Prediction (select 6 units total from this category)

  • ATMO 558 Mesoscale Meteorological Modeling (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 579 Boundary Layer Meteorology (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 551B Dynamic Meteorology (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 570/571 Synoptic Meteorology (3 semester units

Systems Science and Methods (select 6 units total from this category)

  • HWRS 528 Fundamentals: Systems Approach to Hydrologic Modeling (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 545 Introduction to Data Assimilation (3 semester units)

Data Sciences (select 6 units total from this category)

  • ARL 590 Remote Sensing for the Study of Planet Earth (3 semester units)
  • ATMO 529 Objective Analysis in Atmospheric and Related Sciences (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 513 Field Hydrology (2 semester units)
  • CE 528 Numerical Methods in Hydraulics (3 semester units)

*Required Elective Courses = total 18 semester units this category. If the elective course is not offered in a particular semester (e.g., when an instructor is on sabbatical leave), the student may take an alternative related course after approval of his/her Advisor.


Additional advanced electives are required to complete the Major Plan of Study.  See PHD Hydrometeorology Handbook for details.


A minimum of 18 semester units of ATMO 920 Dissertation is required.


No Minor Plan of Study is required.


At the doctoral level, there are 3 primary examination periods:  During the first year (Qualifying Examination), post-course completion (Comprehensive Examinations), and the final semester (Final Oral Defense).  Please review the HAS Doctoral Exam Steps and Timing (PDF file) and the HAS Doctoral Examination Procedures documents (PDF file) for details.

Professional Development


See the PHD Hydrometeorology Handbook (link coming soon) for full details.

Be aware of the Graduate College's Steps to Your Degree requirements timeline when planning your examinations. The Graduate College's electronic degree audit system includes the following GradPath forms which are required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree candidates. You can complete these forms by logging on to the university's Student UAccess system.

  • Responsible Conduct of Research Form
  • Evaluation of Transfer Credit
    • Only if using external transfer courses
  • Doctoral Plan of Study
  • Comprehensive Exam Committee Appointment Form
  • Announcement of Doctoral Comprehensive Examination
  • Results of Oral Comprehensive Examination for Doctoral Candidacy
    • Submitted by Committee Chair
    • Candidacy Fees charged to student bursar's account upon advancement to doctoral candidacy
  • Verification of Prospectus/Proposal Approval
  • Doctoral Dissertation Committee Form
  • Announcement of Final Oral Exam (Defense of Dissertation)
    • Must be submitted and approved at least one week before the date of final examination/defense
  • Results of Final Oral Exam/Defense
    • Submitted by Committee Chair
  • Submission of Final Dissertation Manuscript for Archiving
  • Exit Survey

Learning Outcomes

Refer to the Assessment section for learning outcomes and measures.


General Inquiry:

Admissions Contact:

Director of Graduate Studies: