Master of Science
Main Campus - Melbourne

Master of Science in Space Sciences

The space sciences graduate program stresses many subfields of space studies, such as stellar and extragalactic astrophysics, solar-terrestrial interrelation (space weather, solar energetic particles), cosmic ray physics, energetic radiation from thunderstorms and lightning on Earth and other planets, planetary science, human space exploration research and related instrumentation. Graduate study in space sciences at the master’s level prepares graduates for continued and specialized study toward the doctoral degree in space-related fields as well as a wide range of scientific and technical responsibilities in industry and government.

Admission Requirements

An applicant for admission should have an undergraduate degree in any subfield of space sciences (astronomy/astrophysics, geosciences, planetary sciences, astrobiology), physics or a related engineering field. All entering space sciences graduate students are required to be prepared in mathematics at least through vector analysis. The GRE scores from both the general and subject test in physics are recommended but not required.

Degree Requirements

The master’s degree is conferred on students who have satisfactorily completed a minimum of 30 semester credit hours of graduate study. A master’s thesis is optional. 

Master’s degree students must complete the following five core courses with a grade of C or better:

Core Courses (15 credit hours)
MTH 5201 Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering 1 3
PHY 5015
Analytical Mechanics 1
PHY 5017
Electromagnetic Theory 1
PHY 5030
Quantum Mechanics 1
PHY 5082 Thermodynamics and Statististical Physics 3

In addition, students must take three subject courses from the list below and six semester credit hours of Thesis (SPS 5999). Students choosing to complete a nonthesis program must take two additional subject courses in place of the six semester credit hours of thesis. The subject courses must be PHY or SPS 5000-level and above, and must include at least three courses from the following:

Subject Courses (a minimum of 3 courses from the following)
MTH 5202 Mathematical Methods in Science and Engineering 2 3
SPS 5010 Astrophysics 1: Stellar Structure and Evolution 3
SPS 5011 Astrophysics 2: Galactic Structure and Cosmology 3
SPS 5020 Space Physics 1: The Low-Energy Universe 3
SPS 5021 Space Physics 2: The High-Energy Universe 3
SPS 5030 Planetary Sciences 1: Interiors 3
SPS 5031 Planetary Sciences 2: Atmospheres 3

Course substitutions must be approved by the department head and the Graduate Research and Academic Steering Panel (GRASP).

A general written examination is required in the first semester of residence for diagnosing any deficiencies in undergraduate preparation. Any deficiencies must be removed before a degree will be granted, as evidenced by this examination.

Before the master’s degree is granted, the student must pass a final oral examination administered by a committee of three or more members of the graduate faculty selected by the student and the departmental advisor and including at least one member from outside the physics department. The oral examination emphasizes, but is not necessarily restricted to, subject matter related to the field of the thesis. For students not electing to do a thesis, the oral examination covers the general areas of the student’s graduate studies.