Graduate Study in the AOS Program

The Princeton Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) is an autonomous graduate program within the Department of Geosciences. The AOS program is a place where students can apply their training in natural sciences, engineering, computer science, and mathematics to societally-relevant problems in climate, ocean, and atmospheric research, with an emphasis on the use of theory and numerical modeling. AOS students come from a wide variety of undergraduate backgrounds, and do not necessarily have prior experience with atmospheric and oceanic science or computer simulation.

The AOS program benefits from the research capabilities of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many GFDL scientists are active in the AOS program as lecturers, and major supercomputer resources within GFDL are accessible to students for their research. The Department of Geosciences, with its activities in physical and chemical oceanography, paleoclimatology and atmospheric sciences collaborates with GFDL in providing a comprehensive program of courses and seminars.

The flexible graduate program offers students opportunities for research and courses in a wide range of disciplines, including geophysical fluid dynamics, atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry of the land and ocean, atmospheric modeling, ocean modeling, climate dynamics, ice dynamics, global climate change and paleo-climate. These intellectually-engaging disciplines are exciting areas in which to apply a background in physics, mathematics, computer sciences, chemistry, engineering, and a range of other disciplines. Societal applications of this work include impacts of climate change, hurricane prediction, sea-level rise, and air quality. Through the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) Program at the School of Public and International Affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, students can explore the policy implications of their work.

Handbook for Graduate Students in the AOS Program (.pdf)

Application Timeline

The deadline for completed applications is January 3rd. Applicants will be notified of the results by the end of March.

By December 1st : Last chance to take the GRE (not required)
December: Application Deadline
January: Application forms are evaluated by the AOS Graduate Committee
February: Decision is made by full AOS faculty and Graduate School Dean
March: Acceptance letters are mailed
March/April: Campus visits

How to Apply

A student applying to the program is expected to have met the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in physical science, engineering, or mathematics prior to enrollment.

To apply for an application fee waiver, see:

We encourage students to apply online.

Other information may be obtained by visiting Princeton University's Graduate School Admission website.

Submission of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is not required.

Program of Studies

Students usually take eight to ten courses during their first two years to prepare for the General Examination.  The General Examination is normally administered in the spring of the second year and it consists of two parts. For part one, students write a report on the research topic of their choice, and then in part two they give an hour-long seminar in which they present and defend their work on an original research problem.

After students pass the General Examination, they pursue research for the Ph.D. thesis. This work may or may not be a continuation of the research that was used as the basis for the General Examination seminar. Normally the thesis is finished at the end of the student's fifth year in the program. Each thesis must be approved by the student's faculty advisor and two other faculty members who act as readers. Students defend their thesis at the Final Public Oral Examination. Final acceptance of the dissertation is conditional on passing this examination.


The Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program (AOS) occupies Sayre Hall on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus (located about 3 miles from the main University Campus). Sayre Hall is home to a portion of the AOS Program’s students and faculty, as well as the administrative offices. Across the street from Sayre Hall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) maintains a high level of collaboration with AOS and is home to the majority of the AOS Program’s students and faculty.

All students have access to the main GFDL computing facility, which includes high performance computing and data archive accessed through a network of Linux workstations.

Financial Aid

The AOS program is committed to ensuring that all admitted students receive funding for stipend and tuition for a minimum of five years. All first year graduate students are supported by a Science and Engineering fellowship from Princeton University’s Graduate School (stipend plus tuition). Additional support during the next four years can be from a variety of sources, including the Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System, project grants awarded to individual faculty members from industry or government, or through Assistantship in Instruction. A few University fellowships are also available. Students are also encouraged to apply for National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and/or NASA Fellowships. Various funds are also available to support summer studies, fieldwork, and other research away from campus. Students also receive a summer stipend, provided they are conducting research during that time. Stipend rates are set by the Graduate School. 

Medical Insurance

All enrolled graduate students are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Plan (SHP) insurance coverage, which covers off-campus specialty care and hospitalization. Students may also elect to participate in optional vision and dental plans that provide benefits beyond those included in the SHP for an additional fee.

Princeton University Graduate School

Click here for more information about the Princeton University Graduate School. 

Student Life

The academic year typically begins with the annual AOS program retreat at the Mountain Lakes House, a short walk from Princeton's main campus. At the retreat, incoming students meet other AOS students, researchers, and faculty, while participating in various interactive and team-building events throughout the day. Subsequently, there is an emphasis on maintaining a strong sense of community amongst AOS students by regularly hosting student-led events throughout the year. These events include a student/post-doc seminar series that provides participants an opportunity to both practice presenting their scientific work, and a judgement-free environment to ask all sorts of scientific questions. Another weekly tradition is the tea-time that takes place at the end of the work-week on Friday, bringing together students, post-docs, and faculty. Typically, late summer is when the annual AOS Student Workshop takes pace. The workshop consists of three days of tutorials and lectures by invited speakers on a topic chosen by AOS students, and serves to both fill any gaps in the formal curriculum as well as encourage interactions between the students and speakers. 

There are also a variety of student organizations across campus with active AOS student involvement. Princeton Women in Geosciences is a group of students and early career researchers in AOS and Geosciences that aims to increase the retention and boost the morale of women in the Earth Sciences by maintaining an active peer network and mentorship. AOS students also have their own elected student representive to the Princeton Graduate Student Government. Other student organizations that AOS students have been involved in include Princeton Citizen Scientists and the Princeton University Mountaineering Club. 

The University has many of its own athletic facilities for sports such as golf, tennis, basketball, sailing, soccer, swimming, and squash. The two campus recreation centers offer indoor exercise facilities, pools, and a variety of wellness courses.  The campus and nearby countryside have numerous parks and trails for hikers and cyclists, such as the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park.  Canoe rentals, the Millstone River Tow Path, and occasional winter ice skating are within walking distance of main campus.

Princeton has four performing arts venues that present concerts, dance programs, and both professional and student theater, such as the renowned McCarter Theater. The Passport to the Arts program allows Princeton students to attend a number of performances at no charge at any of these campus venues.  Post docs can take advantage of subscription packages and the "Young-At-Art" program to purchase season tickets at reduced prices.

There are several museums on and near campus.  The Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university museums in the country, with over 92,000 works.  In addition, the Firestone Library offers four exhibitions per year, and materials from the collections are displayed in glass cases throughout the library.  The town is rich with historic buildings, such as Nassau Hall and the former homes of Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann.  The Princeton Historical Society offers weekly walking tours of the area.


The University provides a wide variety of housing for both married and unmarried graduate students. Nearly all is within a mile of the center of the main campus. In Princeton, University housing is generally less expensive than non-university housing.

All students are guaranteed University housing for their first year. Access to University housing in subsequent years depends on availability. Typically students spend about three years in University housing.

Princeton provides dormitory-style facilities for unmarried students and both low-rise and high-rise apartments for married students. Normally unmarried students spend their first year in the Graduate College dormitory. In subsequent years, if they wish, single students may apply to share apartment-style facilities with another student.

For current costs and other information on graduate student housing please visit Princeton University Housing and Real Estate Services website.

Graduate College


Anna Valerio
Department and Graduate Administrator
Office Phone
209 Sayre Hall