AOS Major

Major: Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences B.S.

In this major, students learn the science governing our atmosphere and oceans, often in the context of climate change. Topics covered include weather, climate change, oceanography, clouds and aerosols, and air and water pollution. This major is very flexible and ideal for students interested in the physical science underlying environmental issues like climate change and air pollution. Contact an advisor for more information!

Preparation for the Major

  • 1 of two Chemistry Sequences:
    • Chemistry and Biochemistry sequence for physical scientists: 20A and 20B*
    • Chemistry and Biochemistry sequence for life scientists: 14A and 14B
  • 1 of three Calculus Sequences:
    • Calculus sequence for physical scientists and engineers: Math 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B, 33A, and 33B*
    • Calculus sequence for life scientists: Math 3A, 3B, 3C
    • Mathematics for life scientists: Lifesci 30A and 30B
  • 1 of four Physics Sequences:
    • Engineering Physics sequence lectures: 1A, 1B, 1C
    • Honors Physics sequence lectures: 1AH, 1BH, 1CH
    • Life Science Physics sequence lectures: 5A, 5B, 5C
  • AOS M71(strongly preferred) or Program in Computing 10A
  • AOS 51
  • AOS 90

* Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in atmospheric and oceanic sciences or obtaining employment with the National Weather Service or other governmental agencies are strongly urged to select the Mathematics 31A through 33B sequence and the Physics 1 sequence. 

For petition requests relating to prerequisite and/or major requirements, such as substituting AOS 51 and 90 for similar upper division classes, please consult your departmental advisor

Tracks within the major  These are unofficial recommendations for which courses to select based on your interests. AOS majors are not required to choose or follow a track - these documents are purely designed to provide guidance on selection of (mostly UD) courses.

We recommend that students that are primarily interested in climate and climate change pursue the climate change major.

Transfer Students

Transfer applicants to the Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Environmental Sciences major with 90 or more units must complete as many of the following introductory courses as possible prior to admission to UCLA: one year of calculus, one year of calculus-based physics and one semester of general chemistry.

Recommended before transfer for timely degree completion: One additional semester of general chemistry and one course in computer programming (preferably in Python).

Refer to the UCLA Transfer Admission Guide for up-to-date information regarding transfer selection for admission.

The Major

  • Four courses from Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) 101, 103, 104, M105, 107 and 112
  • Three additional upper division AOS courses selected in consultation with the undergraduate advisor.
  • Two upper division courses from a list of Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics courses selected in consultation with the undergraduate advisor.

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 199 (independent research) taken for 4 units may be units to satisfy one upper-division elective. Thesis approval required from faculty adviser and submitted to department undergraduate advisor.


AOS Program Plan These are recommendations on how to plan out your study list as either a freshman or transfer student. The sample plan only incudes major requirements. Each student’s actual study list may differ, and we strongly advise students to work with academic counselors from CAAC and their home department to determine a personal program plan.



Chemistry and Biochemistry

Examples of upper division Chemistry courses that may be particularly useful are listed below; other upper division Chemistry courses are eligible by petition.

Chem 103. Environmental Chemistry

Chem 110A. Physical Chemistry: Chemical Thermodynamics

Chem 110B. Physical Chemistry: Introduction to Statistical Mechanics and Kinetics

Chem 113A. Physical Chemistry: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

Chem C113B. Physical Chemistry: Introduction to Molecular Spectroscopy

Chem 114: Physical Chemistry Lab

Chem 114/114H Physical Chemistry Laboratory (Honors)

Chem 125. Computers in Chemistry

Chem 113A: Intro Quantum Mechanics

Chem 184. Chemical Instrumentation



Examples of upper division Physics courses that may be particularly useful are listed below; other upper division Chemistry courses are eligible by petition.

PHYSICS 110A. Electricity and Magnetism

PHYSICS 110B. Electricity and Magnetism

PHYSICS 112. Thermodynamics.

PHYSICS 114. Mechanics of Wave Motion and Sound

PHYSICS 117. Electronics for Physics Measurement

PHYSICS 118. Electronics for Physical Measurements

PHYSICS 131. Mathematical Methods of Physics

PHYSICS 132. Mathematical Methods of Physics

PHYSICS 180N. Computational Physics and Astronomy Laboratory



Examples of upper division Mathematics courses that may be particularly useful are listed below; other upper division Chemistry courses are eligible by petition except Math 105A- 105C.

MATH 115A/AH-115B. Linear Algebra

MATH 115B. Linear Algebra

MATH 133. Introduction to Fourier Analysis

MATH 134. Linear and Nonlinear Systems of Differential Equations

MATH 135. Ordinary Differential Equations.

MATH 136. Partial Differential Equations

MATH 142. Mathematical Modeling

MATH 146. Methods of Applied Mathematics

MATH 151A. Applied Numerical Methods

MATH 151B. Applied Numerical Methods

MATH 156. Machine Learning

MATH 170A. Probability Theory I

MATH 170B. Probability Theory II

MATH 171. Stochastic Processes



Examples of upper division Statistics courses that may be particularly useful are listed below; other upper division Chemistry courses are eligible by petition.

STATS 100A. Introduction to Probability

STATS 100B. Introduction to Mathematical Statistics

STATS 100C. Linear Models

STATS 101A. Introduction to Data Analysis and Regression

STATS 101B. Introduction to Design and Analysis of Experiment

STATS 101C. Introduction to Statistical Models and Data Mining

STATS 102A. Introduction to Computational Statistics with R

STATS 102C. Introduction to Monte Carlo Methods

STATS 170. Introduction to Time-Series Analysis

STATS M171. Introduction to Spatial Statistics

STATS C173. Applied Geostatistics

STATS C180. Introduction to Bayesian Statistics


Other science departments

The courses listed below by department have been approved by the undergraduate advisors for use by petition. This list may be revised.


Computer Science

COM SCI 111. Operating Systems Principles

COM SCI 112. Modeling Uncertainty in Information Systems

COM SCI 118. Computer Network Fundamentals

COM SCI 130. Software Engineering

COM SCI C137A. Prototyping Programming Languages

COM SCI 143. Database Systems

COM SCI 170A. Mathematical Modeling and Methods for Computer Science

COM SCI 180. Introduction to Algorithms and Complexity


Civil and Environmental Engineering

C&EE 103 Applied Numerical Computing and Modeling in Civil and Envirnmental Engineering

C&EE 110 Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Engineers


Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

E&EB 109 Introduction to Marine Sciences

E&EB 152 World Vegetation Ecology and Ecophysiology

E&EB C173 Earth Process and Evolutionary History


Environmental Health Sciences

ENV HLT C125. Atmospheric Transport and Transformations of Airborne Chemicals

ENV HLT C152D. Properties and Measurement of Airborne Particles



ENVIRON M131. Human Impact on Biophysical Environment (formerly ENVIRON M109)

ENVIRON M103. Soil and Water Conservation (formerly ENVIRON M114)

ENVIRON 157 Energy, Environment, and Development


Earth & Planetary Space Sciences

ESS/EPSS 150 Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences

ESS/EPSS 152 Physics of Earth

ESS/EPSS 153 Oceans and Atmospheres

ESS/EPSS 171 Advanced Computing in Geosciences



GEOG 116. Climatology (formerly GEOG 104)

GEOG 117. Tropical Climatology (formerly GEOG 102)

GEOG M126. Environmental Change (formerly GEOG M131)

GEOG 181A. Intermediate Geographic Information Systems (formerly GEOG 168)

GEOG 182A. Introduction to Remote Sensing (formerly GEOG 169)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

MECH & AE 103. Elementary Fluid Mechanics


*** Courses taken to fulfill requirements must be taken for letter grades.***


*Any course taken to fulfill major requirements for the AOS major during Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022 can be taken for a letter grade or as Passed/Not Passed. Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, we hope this temporary change in policy will allow each of our students to choose a grade basis that is most suitable to them.


This temporary change of policy will only apply to the terms listed above. It will not apply to any previous or future terms.

For the official requirements, please visit the UCLA Registrar website.

General Catalog Current Course Descriptions website