Meteorology Major Advising - FAQ

Q: Where can I find the prerequisites for Meteorology and Climate Science courses?

On the four-year roadmaps page, you can click on each class to see the prerequisites.

Q: What classes should I take during my first year at SJSU?

In terms of Meteorology, plan on taking Metr 10 (Weather and Climate) in the first semester you are here. If you are taking the Concentration in Climate Science, then instead plan on taking Metr 12 (Global Warming: Science and Solutions) in your first semester. For all students, also plan on taking Metr 40 (Weather Seminar) in the first Spring semester. It is also important that all students take the highest Math course you can get into after taking the Entry Level Mathematics exam. Once you complete Math 30 (or 30P), you can start taking the required Physics sequence.

Please consult the four-year roadmap for details.

Q: I've just now entered SJSU, but am taking Math 19 (pre calculus) my first semester. Does this mean I won't graduate in four years according to the roadmap?

Graduating in four years is not that common for most majors at SJSU, but it is certainly possible if that is your primary aim. For us, we want out students to be successful in their professional lives. So, in many cases, we encourage our students to take fewer classes per semester - and thus get better grades! That said, there are also times when a summer class may enable a student to 'catch up' so that they are on track to take Metr 60 in the Fall and Metr 61 or Metr 71 in the Spring. Check the roadmap and consult with your advisor should you have further questions.

Q: Is there any particular order to taking my General Education (GE) courses?

On the roadmap, we've suggested when you take your GE courses, but it's really up to you. The university suggests that you take your writing courses early, and we agree. However, for other courses, pick and choose what seems the most interesting at the time. If the load seems too high during a particular semester, then consider dropping a GE course and maybe taking that class during a summer or winter session. We no longer recommend that our entering freshmen take Sci 2 - take a GE class in the same category instead. 

Q: Are Meteorology and Climate Science students exempt from some GE requirements?

Partially - our students do not have to take any Area B GE courses (which saves 9 units!) because of the math and physics prerequisites we have.

Q: How many hours per week should I expect to study? I need to adjust my work hours.

Be advised that - in our opinion - if you are working more than about 15-20 hours per week, it may be difficult to successfully manage a full-time load (in any major!), even during the first two years. Our program is challenging, and for students working a lot of hours, they often simply find the total workload too much. Although everybody is different in their ability to manage workloads, we suggest that students give themselves a chance to succeed by making their studies their top priority, and by working the fewest number of hours possible. Note that many of our Juniors and Seniors work in the department either grading papers, in computing jobs, or working directly with faculty on research projects. These jobs are typically flexible and allow students further education and experience.

Q: Why are there so many Math and Physics classes as prerequisites?

The fields of meteorology and climate science are math and physics-based sciences, and to really begin to develop a foundation for understanding how the atmosphere works, you need to develop various skills in math and physics. We believe that these skills will serve you well in advancing your understanding of meteorology and climate science, and in preparing you for your future career. The National Weather Service also feels this way, and - with one exception - our BS-Meteorology is designed to satisfy their requirements; the exception is that the NWS requires a class in Ordinary Differential Equations, and we no longer require this. Students wishing to pursue a job with the NWS should be sure to take this class (it can substitute as an elective, with the consent of the advisor). Students who are in the Climate Science Concentration and who are considering pursuing an advanced technical degree may also consider taking additional math courses.

Q: What is the hardest part of the major?

For many of our students, the biggest challenge will be getting through the first two years. It is during this time that students take many of their math and physics classes, and these can be a lot of work. However, once students get into their junior year in the program, almost all succeed in obtaining their BS degree. This is not to say that the junior/senior years are easy, but in our small classroom environment, students generally succeed by working closely with faculty and other students.

Q: What classes should I take before transferring from a community college?

For the BS in Meteorology: As the four-year roadmap indicates, the first two years in Meteorology concentrate on developing the skills required for an in-depth study of meteorology. These courses include three semesters of calculus (Math 30/31/32), three semesters of physics (Phys 50/51/52), one semester of chemistry (Chem 1), and two computing classes (Metr 50/51). In principle, all these classes can be completed before you arrive at SJSU. The lower division classes that you can only take at SJSU are Meteorology I (Metr 60) and Meteorology II (Metr 61). These are gateway classes into the junior and senior years, and need to be taken here at SJSU.

If your Community College advisor tells you to focus only on completion of all your GE classes before SJSU - ignore them! You MUST get started on your Math classes - this is your top priority! After your first calculus course is completed, get started on Physics.

For the BS in Meteorology, Concentration in Climate Science: As the four-year roadmap indicates, the first two years concentrate on developing the skills required for an in-depth study of climate science. These courses include: one semester of calculus (Math 30); two semesters of physics (Phys 2A/2B); one semester of chemistry (Chem 1A); one semester of biology (Biol 1A); and two computing classes (Met 50/51). In principle, all these classes can be completed before you arrive. The lower division classes that you can only take at SJSU are Meteorology I (Metr 60) and Introduction to Climate Science (Metr 71). These are gateway classes into the junior and senior years and need to be taken here at SJSU.

Q:  I plan to transfer to the Meteorology program from a community college.
Are there any special considerations when transferring?

Good question.  At a community (or 4-year) college you can take most of
your first two year requirements including calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology (Climate Science concentration). You may also be able to take an equivalent to Weather and Climate (Metr 10). However, there are other classes we require our sophomores to take, including one year of programming (our Metr 50/51) and the year-long Introduction to Meteorology sequence (Metr 60/61 for Met majors, and 60/71 for Climate Science majors) that you'll have to plan for.  Meteorology I and II (Metr 60/61, or 71 for the Climate Science concentration) are quantitative introductions to the science, and include math and physics, together with a great lab in the fall class (Metr 60). These are not currently offered elsewhere in the CSU or Community College systems.  These courses also prepare students for all junior/senior meteorology courses, so you do need to take these before any upper division courses.  The best outcome is to take some of your math/physics elsewhere, and then transfer into SJSU in the sophomore year, so you can take Metr 50/51/60/61 (or 71) when you arrive.

Q: I would really like to study Meteorology because it's something I really find interesting; however, I'm concerned about all the math and physics required. How do I know if this the right major for me?

This is a good question. Meteorology is based on math and physics, and many of our junior and senior level courses are theory-based and require this background to understand the fundamentals of how the atmosphere works. However, while a strong background in math/physics is great, it does not necessarily mean one would make a good forecaster, for example. In fact, some of our top forecasters and our most successful alumni struggled with their math and physics. As for "Is this the right major for you?" I'd say, "Follow what interests you, and if it's Meteorology, then go for it!" However, be prepared to study hard to succeed in this rewarding field.


San Jose State University Department of Meteorology, Duncan Hall 620
Phone: 408.924.5200 Email: