Astrobiology, B.S.

Astrobiology, B.S.

What is an astrobiology degree?

Astrobiology BSStudy the theory of abiogenesis and learn about the potential for life on other planets

Students in the astrobiology program receive a broad education in areas that include planetary science, extrasolar planets and the origin of life. At the same time, students take a solid core of mathematics, physics and biology courses, allowing them to pursue a wide range of interests. To our knowledge, Florida Tech's astrobiology degree program is the first and only undergraduate astrobiology program in the country.

Astrobiology degree graduates are ready for graduate studies in astrophysics, planetary science or biology, as well as careers in the aerospace or biotech-related industries. Whether you want to study the effects of space travel on humans, discover past or present microbial life on Mars, or help develop ways to sustain life on the moon, you will be well prepared with an astrobiology degree from Florida Tech. Here, you'll develop a strong background in physics and biology and get hands-on experience with space science technologies.

Gain Practical Experience

The faculty advisor to astrobiology program majors is a former astronaut who conducted astronomy research in two space shuttle missions. As a student in the program, your first year includes a freshman seminar that provides an excellent introduction to the career options and research areas open to students majoring in astrobiology.

Florida Tech professors encourage all students seeking an astrobiology degree to become involved in activities and research projects for immediate immersion in "real science," not just text learning. Students typically join a research group early in their study at Florida Tech and get experience in hands-on, high-caliber research. You'll also have the opportunity to undertake exciting independent or collaborative (with a peer or professor) research in a topic of your choosing. As a result, you get practical experience, an enhanced job search portfolio and the perfect preparation for graduate and professional school or employment.

Build Professional Relationships

Beyond the classroom, astrobiology majors build leadership and professional experience through exciting internships and participation in academic organizations like Sigma Pi Sigma (national physics honor society), Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, the Student Astronomical Society, student government and over 100 other student organizations.

Get Recruited Upon Graduation

Employers that have recruited Florida Tech students with an astrobiology degree for internships and careers include Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, DRS Optronics, Kennedy Space Center, NASA and the Space Telescopic Science Institute.

Earn an Advanced Degree

After receiving their astrobiology degree, many of our students go on to master's and doctoral programs at Florida Tech and other prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth and Yale.

Why pursue an astrobiology degree at Florida Tech?

Search for abiogenesis evidence or get involved in projects at the NASA Space Life Sciences Lab.

Florida Tech is home to the first and only undergraduate astrobiology university in the country, which makes it a premier place for students interested in space sciences to attend. The Florida Tech student body is very diverse, with students from over 100 different countries. The "High Tech with a Human Touch" approach means you benefit from the one-on-one attention of a small school combined with the high-tech resources of a national research and astrobiology university. Our students are also highly involved in campus life by participating in over 20 intramural sports, more than 100 student organizations and 21 varsity sports.

A Faculty of Top Researchers

Faculty members at Florida Tech are top researchers in their fields and are committed to the success of our students. The advisor to the astrobiology program is a former astronaut who conducted astronomy research in two shuttle missions, perfect for an astrobiology university. Physics and space sciences professors include a TED Global Fellow and an NSF Career Award-winner.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Professors highly encourage students to get actively involved in research by joining one of the research groups in the department. Currently our faculty is involved in observing and categorizing the properties of exoplanets, and is in the process of developing a multi-spectra camera intended for use on the International Space Station. Astrobiology students involved in projects that require unique instrumentation may gain access to the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center. In addition, they are frequently admitted to the NASA Space Academy and other similar programs.

High-Tech Laboratory Facilities

As the only undergraduate astrobiology university, students enjoy access to the Ortega 0.8-m Telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast. Faculty and students use this telescope as their main training and research instrument, but also have easy access to the SARA 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Additional facilities available for students at this astrobiology university include:

  • The Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA Kennedy Space Center.
  • Laboratories in the Olin Physical Sciences building: a teaching and research laboratory that includes an aquaculture facility, climate change institute and the offices and research labs of the faculty. It houses the Chemistry Department, state-of-the-art instrumentation and rooms for NMR spectrometers, photochemistry, glassblowing and computational chemistry.
  • Harris Center for Science and Engineering that serves the research needs of our students and includes eight teaching labs, 12 modern research labs, a 16-workstation computer facility, an electron microscope suite and 2,500-square-foot indoor aquaculture facility, most of which is wet laboratory space.

These facilities make Florida Tech the astrobiology university of choice.

Great Florida Location

In terms of location, Florida Tech is the perfect place for an astrobiology university. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast, an area that boasts year-round subtropical weather and 72 miles of Atlantic Coast beaches. This area is also located within Florida's High Tech Corridor, which puts it in close proximity to over 5,000 technological companies and NASA Kennedy Space Center. The campus is minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon, and just a short drive from Central Florida tourist attractions.

Choose Florida Tech – a cutting edge astrobiology university.

How will an astrobiology degree prepare me for the future?

In preparation for an astrobiology career, Florida Tech students often take part in internships with local and national companies. Some of these companies include:

  • NASA

  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

  • Sandia National Labs

  • American Institute of Physics

These internship opportunities allow our students to gather the necessary experience to put them ahead of the competition when searching for an astrobiology career.

Florida Tech also hosts the SARA Research Experience for Undergraduates program, a summer internship program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.

Research Opportunities

Florida Tech astrobiology students have the opportunity to utilize the Ortega 0.8-m Telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast. Students observe extrasolar planets and other cosmic phenomena. Research activities involve such study as measuring the adhesion properties of dust grains to understand the important processes in the formation of plants, and the effects of cosmic radiation on the human body. Collaboration with faculty in the biology department involves the study of the effects of the space environment on long-term missions involving humans. NASA's Space Academy also frequently admits our astrobiology students to take part in exciting training and research. These types of hands-on experiences give students a real-world view of an astrobiology career.

Join Club and Organizations to Enhance Your Astrobiology Degree

Astrobiology students can meet friends, explore interests and hone their professional skills as members of:

  • Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

  • Society of Physics Students

  • Sigma Pi Sigma (national physics honor society)

  • Student Astronomical Society

  • Tri Beta (national biological sciences honor society)

These clubs give students the chance to network with other people interested in space and the sciences, allowing for opportunities to make the connections that can help kick start an astrobiology career.

What can you do with an astrobiology degree?

An astrobiology career gives you an opportunity to apply many areas of science to your job from astrophysics to biology, chemistry, astronomy, planetary science and geology. An astrobiology career could have you studying the effects of space on human and animal life, categorizing the properties of exoplanets, or collecting ice core samples in Alaska.

NASA describes an astrobiology career as an interdisciplinary field that requires a comprehensive, integrated understanding of biological, planetary and cosmic phenomena. Students who are interested in a high-tech career at space agencies, in research and development or in working for the federal government are the perfect candidates for an astrobiology career.

Career Outlook

What would an astrobiology career or similar occupation look like? The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information about a multitude of jobs in the United States, including details about projected employment growth, median annual pay and specifics about what the job entails.

Individuals with biology and physics backgrounds will continue to be in demand in medicine, information technology, communications technology, semiconductor technology and other applied research-and-development fields. According to the Bureau employment in the aerospace industry will concentrate on national defense, raising fuel efficiency and aircraft design and production while astronomers will be needed for continued space research and innovative technologies such as scientific equipment, computer software.

Career Options

Undergraduates and graduate students with a degree in Astrobiology can look forward to an astrobiology career such as:

  • Astronomy

  • Geology

  • Space Sciences Research

  • Biomedical Research

  • Environment Research

  • Post-Secondary Teaching

  • University-based Research

Entry Level Salary Expectations

PayScale.com is an online salary information company providing real-time information on job market compensation. Astrobiology career data is not specifically listed, however associated science careers are listed and can provide some insight on what you might expect for your income upon graduation, as well as the earning potential you might achieve over your career.

Aerospace Engineering: $62,500 - $118,000
Physics: $51,200 - $99,100
Geology: $45,000 – $89,400
Molecular Biology: $40,100 - $84,900
Microbiology: $39,700 - $76,200
Nuclear Engineering: $66,800 - $107,000

Check PayScale.com for the most recent information on this and other careers.

Potential Employers for Florida Tech Graduates

The range of potential employers that could provide an astrobiology career includes many organizations that have offered internships and jobs to Florida Tech graduates such as:

  • Harris

  • Lockheed-Martin

  • Boeing

  • DRS Optronics

  • Kennedy Space Center

  • NASA

  • Goddard

  • The Space Telescopic Science Institute

  • Northrup Grumman

  • U.S. Army

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory

  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

  • Museum of Natural History in New York City

  • Kitt Peak National Observatory

Graduate & Doctoral Programs

More than half of Florida Tech's astrobiology degree students attend graduate school. In addition to the master's and doctoral programs at Florida Tech, recent astrobiology degree graduates have been accepted to graduate programs at such prestigious institutions as:

  • Auburn University

  • Caltech

  • Dartmouth University

  • Johns Hopkins

  • Georgia Tech

  • Ohio State University

  • Rice

  • SUNY Buffalo

  • SUNY Stony Brook

  • UCLA

  • University of Arizona

  • University of Florida

  • University of Texas

  • Vanderbilt University

  • Yale

Get the Facts