Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate


Atmospheric chemistry focuses on understanding the factors determining atmospheric composition and its environmental implications for climate, air quality, and biogeochemical cycling. It is an interdisciplinary science that spans across several disciplines including climate dynamics, atmospheric physics, chemical engineering, physical chemistry, and ecology. Some atmospheric chemists are actual “chemists”, while others focus more on the driving physical factors. Atmospheric chemists share a common foundation of knowledge and have deeper knowledge in their areas of specialization.

Proposed Curriculum

Undergraduate Foundational Knowledge

Basic education in atmospheric chemistry that will give you a general understanding of the field.

  • Chemistry: Physical Sciences 1 or equivalent
  • Atmospheric chemistry: EPS 133

Graduate students: First Year, Fall Term

First Year, Spring Term

  • One or two graduate course(s) from the list below
  • Second math course based on EPS math requirements (e.g., Applied Math 105, 111, 120, 201, 202, or Statistics 139, 149, 230; see the EPS Graduate Student Handbook)
  • EPS breadth course from outside atmospheric chemistry

Graduate Advanced Knowledge 

Essential preparation for professional atmospheric chemists depending on their areas of interest. These courses will typically have advanced prerequisites.

  • EPS 231 Climate Dynamics
  • EPS 232 Dynamic Meteorology
  • EPS 237 Planetary Radiation and Climate
  • ES 263 Chemical Reactions and Mechanisms in the Environment
  • ES 267 Aerosol Science and Technology
  • ES 268 Chemical Kinetics
  • PHY 123 Laboratory Electronics; PHY 175 Laser Physics and Modern Optical Physics; APY 216 Electromagnetic Interactions with Matter
  • CHEM 242 Quantum Mechanics
  • CHEM 240 Statistical Thermodynamics
  • Land-atmosphere interactions: advanced courses are offered at MIT


  • Jim Anderson: Stratospheric and laboratory measurements
  • Daniel Jacob: Atmospheric chemistry modeling
  • Michael McElroy: Atmospheric chemistry, composition, altering climate, air quality, radiation
  • Scot Martin: Environmental chemistry
  • Steve Wofsy: Forest and atmospheric measurements
  • Frank Keutsch (EPS Affiliate and faculty in SEAS and Dept. of Chemistry)
  • Elsie Sunderland (EPS Affiliate and faculty in SEAS and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health)