The howard university program in atmospheric sciences (HUPAS): A program exemplifying diversity and opportunity

Vernon R. Morris, Everette Joseph, Sonya Smith, Tsann wang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This paper discusses experiences and lessons learned from developing an interdisciplinary graduate program (IDP) during the last 10 y: The Howard University Graduate Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS). HUPAS is the first advanced degree program in the atmospheric sciences, or related fields such as meteorology and earth system sciences, instituted at a historically black college or university or minority-serving institution (MSI). The PhD program in atmospheric sciences was implemented in 1996 as a direct result of synergies between overlapping interests in initiating interdisciplinary programs within the Howard University Graduate School, and within a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)- funded university research center to produce greater institutional depth and breadth of research in the geosciences. The development of HUPAS has revitalized a significant segment of the Howard University research community, leveraged a significant level of funding for research and training, raised the visibility of the university in a vibrant area of research, and made a great impact on the national statistics for the production of underrepresented minority (URM) advanced degree holders in the atmospheric sciences. Though the HUPAS program is still in its infancy with respect to many well-established programs in atmospheric sciences and meteorology, it has benefited from a number of federal, state, and academic partnerships, which have led to increasing capacity development, improved resources for students, and research infrastructure enhancements. Specific examples of successful partnerships among HUPAS and federal funding agencies such as NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been critical cornerstones in the development process. The student recruitment and retention strategies that have enabled the success of this program and statistics of student graduation during the last decade are discussed. Entering its tenth year, HUPAS has apparently overcome many of the pitfalls that plague the development of IDPs that draw their faculty from existing, traditional departments. It is hoped that the approaches and lessons learned and discussed in this paper may be illuminating and useful for others to emulate in the development of a similar IDP programs in atmospheric and other earth and environmental sciences, especially at MSIs and at institutions with small- to medium-sized graduate enrollments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric sciences
  • Howard university
  • Interdisciplinary graduate programs
  • NCAS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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