Geophysical fluid dynamics is an interdisciplinary field of study in which the primary goal is an improvement in our basic understanding of fluid flows that occur in nature. The approach to this understanding is through mathematical, numerical, and experimental modeling as well as observational programs. A geophysical fluid dynamicist must have a firm grasp of the fundamental principles of classical physics, knowledge of the techniques of applied mathematics, and an interest in the natural sciences. It follows that the course of study leading to a degree in geophysical fluid dynamics is a rewarding one in which the student gains an overview of the geophysical sciences not available from study of a single discipline.
The interdepartmental graduate program of study leads to the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree; currently there is no master's degree offered. The program is administered by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, and has its own separate degree requirements. It differs from the regular departmental offerings in the Earth sciences mainly by its interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, and fluid dynamics, with less emphasis on descriptive material from any one discipline.