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Degree Options for


Stanford University’s Atmosphere/Energy program bridges the gap between the two key disciplines of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Fossil-fuel energy contributes directly to air pollution and global warming. Atmospheric winds‚ solar radiation and precipitation are sources of renewable wind‚ wave‚ solar and hydroelectric power. The Atmosphere/Energy program combines the fields of Atmospheric Science and Energy Science and Engineering. This is a natural combination because the best ways to mitigate atmospheric problems are to increase the efficiency with which energy is used‚ optimize the use of natural energy resources, and understand the effects of energy technologies on the atmosphere.

Learn about each degree option in Atmosphere/Energy

Master’s of Science

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a special field designation of Atmosphere/Energy on the transcript.

Students admitted to graduate study in the department can satisfy the requirements for the Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering by completing a minimum of three quarters of full tuition registration (more than 8 units) and a minimum of 45 units of study beyond the BS degree. All 45 units must be taken at Stanford. A minimum 2.75 grade point average (GPA) is required for candidates to be recommended for the MS. No thesis is required.

The MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering requires at least 30 units at the graduate level (courses numbered 200 or above) and at least 24 units from the School of Engineering. Courses numbered below 100 may not be used to fulfill the 45-unit degree requirement.

Additional requirements for the MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis on Atmosphere/Energy include the completion of:

  • A minimum of 30 units in combined atmosphere- and energy-related courses
  • Of these 30 units, a minimum of 4 energy-core courses taken for letter grades.
  • Of these 30 units, a minimum of 4 atmosphere-core courses taken for letter grades.
  • The remainder of the 30 units may be from either atmosphere- or energy-related courses
  • 15 additional units to fulfill the 45-unit MS requirement

These units must be in engineering, science, mathematics or related fields or pertinent to the student's degree objective and must be approved by the advisor. Physical education and language courses or remedial English-language instruction (EFSLANG) courses, for example, cannot count toward the MS degree. Students may take up to 6 out of the 45 units required for the MS degree on S/NC or CR/NC basis (instead of receiving a letter grade), but these pass/no credit courses cannot count toward the minimum requirement of 4 atmosphere-related plus 4 energy-related courses. The only exception to the 6-unit rule is when a student takes a normal (non-seminar, non-research) course of 2 units that was not offered for a letter grade, so must have been offered S/NC (or the equivalent in the business school).

These requirements allow students the flexibility to select courses closest to their interest while maintaining the goal of giving students a background in both energy and atmosphere.

Learn more about applying.

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD degree is offered under the general regulations of the university as set forth in the “Graduate Degrees” section of the Stanford University Bulletin.

The degree requires a minimum of 135 units of graduate study, at least two years of which must be at Stanford with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in post-MS course work. The time to completion, though, generally varies from four to six years, on average. All candidates for the PhD degree are required to complete CEE 200 in conjunction with a one-quarter teaching assistantship/course assistantship. Please see the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering handbook for further requirements, including specific PhD coursework unit requirements.

All students applying to the PhD degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Atmosphere/Energy must complete a master’s degree in science or engineering (MS, MSc, MEng or equivalent) before starting the PhD program. Students not currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in science or engineering or who have not completed one already, can be considered only for the MS program in Atmosphere/Energy.

A student desiring to obtain a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Atmosphere/Energy should apply for the PhD though the Atmosphere/Energy Program either while enrolled in an MS program or after completing the MS degree.

Learn more about applying.

Supporting Graduate Students with a Gift

If you would like to support an MS or PhD graduate student researcher or research in the Atmosphere/Energy Program, please consider a tax-deductible gift to the Atmosphere/Energy Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.

Visit the Stanford online Make a Gift Page

If you would like to make your gift online, visit the above link. Start by selecting the School of Engineering in the first field. In the second field, select Civil and Environmental Engineering. Finally, under the Special Instructions/Other Designation field, type in “Atmosphere/Energy Program.”

Your gift will be used to fund graduate student fellowships, research projects and student activities in the Atmosphere/Energy Program. If you wish to specify that the funds be used for a specific purpose (e.g., computer or laboratory equipment, or research on a specific atmospheric and/or energy-related topic), add this request in the Special Instructions/Other Designation field.

You will receive a letter of acknowledgement from the Atmosphere/Energy Program Director and be recognized in the Stanford Engineering annual report. For gifts large enough to sustain a full student fellowship for more than one year, the fellowship will be named after you or the person you designate for the period that the funding remains available.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to expand the knowledge of the engineers, scientists and leaders of tomorrow.

For questions, please contact Professor Mark Z. Jacobson at (650) 723-6836.

Contact Us:

Professor Mark Z. Jacobson
Director, Atmosphere/Energy