Climate Science Minor

News and opinions about earth’s climate and global climate change can be found everywhere in today’s media, but without a foundational knowledge of climate science, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. The Climate Science Minor aims to give students a strong interdisciplinary foundation in climate science with opportunities to explore policy, energy, and human dimensions of climate change.

Who is the Climate Science Minor for?

The Climate Science Minor is for any undergraduate who wants to understand climate change science from a broad perspective. This interdisciplinary minor offers UW students a climate science credential that will expand the value of their undergraduate experience and be useful in securing future employment or educational opportunities.
A student can explore paleoclimate, marine pollution, ecology, and the arctic, as they travel through the rich course offerings, courses with no prerequisites. Students with some math, chemistry, and physics coursework have a few additional options including Atmospheric Chemistry and Glaciology. Because there are many options to fulfill the course requirements, students are encouraged to meet with the Climate Minor Advisor, Miriam Bertram, for course planning.

It is difficult for students majoring in Atmospheric Sciences to complete the minor because 18 credits must be outside the major. All others, with careful planning, can successfully complete the minor.

See one Climate Minor student’s reflection on the Climate Minor and another’s on a study abroad to Greenland

A sample 7 course, 25 credit pathway to completing the Climate Science Minor

Core Coursework

  • ATMS 211: Climate and Climate Change (5 cr, no prerequisites)
  • CSE 160: Data Programming (4 cr, no prerequisites)

Integrative Capstone Experience

  • ATMS/ESS/OCN 475: Current Research Seminar (3 cr, prerequisite: ATMS 211, already required for the minor)


  • ATMS 350: Ecological Climatology (3 cr) (prereqs listed in timeschedule not required)
  • ESS 433: Environmental Change in the Glacial Ages (5 cr)
  • OCEAN 409: Marine Pollution (3 cr) (prereqs listed in timeschedule not required)
  • ARCTIC 400: Integrating Policy and Science in Arctic Studies (3 cr)

There are many pathways through the minor, and two excellent tools for planning

  • visit the course planning document for possible course options and
  • discuss your interests in a meeting with Miriam Bertram, the Climate Minor advisor.
    • Email to set up an appointment.

More Details on Requirements:

Minimum of 25 credits

  • One of ESS 201, ATM S 211 or ATM S 321 (3-5 credits)
  • One of OCN/FISH 452, AMATH 301, Q SCI 381, or CSE 160
  • Integrated Capstone Experience: ATM S/ESS/OCN 475 (3 credits)
  • Science Electives: At least one course from each of ATM S, ESS, and OCN
  • If needed to reach 25 credits students take a course in climate and  social science, policy, or energy

How the credits must be distributed

  • Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA in courses applied to the minor.
  • Minimum 15 credits must be taken from the University of Washington.
  • Minimum 18 credits outside the student’s major.
  • Minimum of 15 credits must be upper division.

Contact your major adviser to declare the minor and integrate the courses into your academic plan.

Subscribe to the Climate Minor mailman list to get notices about climate-related events, updates to the minor, and course offerings related to climate.

Additional information about general minors can be found here.

Advice for students interested in the Climate Science Minor:

Take either ESS 201 or ATM S 211 in your freshman or sophomore year; this will complete the prerequisite for the capstone course (OCN/ESS/ATM S 475) which you should take during winter quarter of your junior year.  THE CAPSTONE COURSE IS ONLY OFFERED ONCE A YEAR.

Do NOT wait until your senior year to take all the climate minor courses. Students that have tried to complete 3 or more of the climate minor courses in their last year can find that conflicts between climate minor options and their major requirements cannot be resolved, and the climate minor cannot be completed.


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