An offshoot of the atmospheric sciences, meteorology involves using numerical weather prediction models and radar technology to analyze weather patterns. The best colleges for this science have dedicated meteorology programs that are independent of oceanography, atmospheric sciences or other related fields. The best meteorology programs earn high rankings from the National Research Council and offer advanced facilities and ample student support structures.

Pennsylvania State University

Indoor meteorology center of study.
Indoor meteorology center of study.

The National Research Council recognized Pennsylvania State University in 2010 as the highest ranked college for meteorology because of its scholarly reputation and quality of research. Future meteorologists gain much practical experience in the nation’s largest student-staffed campus weather service and the offices of the Pennsylvania State Climatologist. Students benefit from advanced study facilities such as the Joel N. Myers Weather Center, featuring a 36-panel electronic wall map. The Department of Meteorology also serves as the center of a dynamic community -- including thousands of alumni -- with its own student cafe and lounge.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

College students learning meteorology programs with help of professor.
College students learning meteorology programs with help of professor.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s meteorology program ranked as one of the National Research Council’s top five for research among all programs in atmospheric science and also ranked highly for scholarly reputation. The Department of Meteorology offers specialized undergraduate and graduate degrees in meteorology. Students benefit from the on-campus presence of the National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office, which offers meteorology students research and employment opportunities. As the only major American university located on a Pacific island, UH-Manoa offers meteorology students the singular opportunity to participate in research on tropical Pacific and Asian-Pacific weather patterns.

Florida State University

Students conducting wind experiment on campus.
Students conducting wind experiment on campus.

The National Research Council ranked the meteorology program at Florida State University highly for both scholarly reputation and research. Its undergraduate program is one of the largest in the United States, with over a dozen faculty members. Advanced research facilities include the Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute. This program also emphasizes broadcast weather-casting, with alumni including Stephanie Abrams of the Weather Channel and Janice Huff, Chief Meteorologist for NBC in New York.

University of Oklahoma at Norman

College students wanting to interview for employment opportunities.
College students wanting to interview for employment opportunities.

According to the findings of the National Research Council, no dedicated meteorology program offers more in terms of financial aid and student completion rates than the one at University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus. The School of Meteorology lies within the 244,000-square-foot National Weather Center. This location gives students proximity to a dozen university, state and federal organizations -- including the research arm of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- which provide internships and employment opportunities. The University of Oklahoma is dedicated to the funding of its meteorology program, providing six endowed faculty chairs and two professorships.