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Planetary Science, B.S.

Planetary Science, B.S.

What is a Planetary Science Degree?

Planetary Science BS

One of Florida Tech’s most prestigious space science degree programs, the planetary science degree option is designed to meet the needs of students intending to pursue graduate studies in space physics, geophysical sciences, and planetary sciences.

The program also provides professional preparation to students who intend to pursue a career in aerospace and related industries. Established alongside the US space program, Florida Tech has one of the oldest and most well-known collection of space science degree programs in the country, including the planetary science degree.

Gain Practical Experience

Whether you want to study the effects of solar activity, examine the properties of planetary bodies in our solar system, or unlock the mysteries of planets around other stars, a planetary science degree from Florida Tech gives you a strong background in physics and hands-on experience with space science technologies.

Home to all physics and space sciences programs, the Olin Physical Sciences Center includes two large multiuse lecture/demonstration classrooms and the Olin Observatory, which houses our 0.8-m Ortega Telescope. Faculty are involved in NASA’s Kepler exoplanet mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Cassini mission to Saturn and Titan, and study solar system objects from Mercury to the Kuiper Belt and beyond.

Through study, independent research, and internship opportunities, students gain practical experience, an enhanced job search portfolio, and the perfect preparation for graduate school or employment.

Why Pursue a Planetary Science Degree at Florida Tech?

Florida Tech students benefit from a close-knit academic community and small student-to-faculty ratio, something not usually found at the average planetary science college.

This is unique when you consider that we are one of the largest earth and space science programs in the US in terms of the number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually. This is high praise from the American Institute of Physics for Florida Tech and an important reason to consider enrolling in our planetary science program. In fact, Florida Tech is one of only a few universities in the world to offer a BS in Planetary Science. The unique program and innovative curriculum make Florida Tech an exciting option for students interested in studying planetary science.

Internationally Recognized Faculty—Personalized Attention

Another reason Florida Tech is a great college is its faculty. Florida Tech faculty members are top research scientists who truly care about student success. Our professors give their highest priorities to both teaching and research, which involve real-world applications. There are many opportunities for research, which give students a chance to develop a strong working relationship with their professors in a hands-on learning environment.

Professors actively encourage students to join one of the various research groups in the department as early as their first year. Students who work closely with professors doing research work with data from spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Cassini mission, or the Kepler Space Telescope. In the planetary science program, professors at Florida Tech work on space weather, solar physics, planetary geology, exoplanets, astrobiology, and the science of human space flight.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

As a planetary science college, students at Florida Tech conduct their research alongside faculty working with active NASA missions, such as the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Kepler exoplanet mission. Students have on-campus access to the Ortega 0.8-m telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast, allowing students to observe extrasolar planets and other cosmic phenomena. Faculty and students use this telescope as their main training and research instrument, but also have easy access to the Southeastern Association for Astronomy (SARA) 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The Department of Physics and Space Sciences is located in the F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building, a 70,000-square-foot facility that is equipped with state-of-the-art labs; clean and dark rooms; a 3,000-square-foot high bay area; a rooftop observatory; teaching classrooms with full multimedia; and smart whiteboards. Students also have access to the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Florida Tech’s facilities are what you would expect from the best physics colleges.  In addition to students having access to the largest research-grade telescope in Florida, the 0.8-meter Ortega Telescope, students also have access to telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

Located in the Heart of Florida’s High-tech Corridor

Florida Tech is the perfect place for a BS in Planetary Science. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast (so named because of the presence of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral just north of us), minutes away from the Indian River Lagoon, the most diverse estuary in North America.

The area has the fifth largest high-tech workforce in the country, with more than 5,000 high-tech corporations and government and military organizations located nearby. This workforce also provides an abundance of internship and employment opportunities.

Florida Tech is just over the causeway from the Atlantic Ocean with its 72 miles of beautiful beaches, and a short trip to the Florida Keys or the Orlando theme parks. We also have a rich campus life that includes a wide range of intramural and collegiate sports, clubs, and social activities.

Build Lasting Professional Relationships through Campus Organizations

Beyond the classroom, planetary science degree majors build leadership and professional experience through participation in academic organizations like Sigma Pi Sigma (the national physics honor society), student government, and over 100 other campus-wide student organizations. Campus life offers a wide range of activities for students from intramural and intercollegiate sports, to area events and activities.

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space is a student-run organization that allows members to meet regularly to discuss space news and activism. They also take part in networking to allow them to make the connections to secure planetary science internships and careers after college.

The Student Astronomical Society is another organization that focuses on space; these students peer through high-tech telescopes from around the world and beyond. Utilizing telescopes from Florida Tech and across the globe, they can observe fascinating cosmic events and phenomena.

How Will a Planetary Science Degree Prepare Me for the Future?

Peerless Study and Internship Opportunities

Internships are an exciting and hands-on way for Florida Tech students to gain experience in the workplace while still completing their degree. These valuable learning opportunities build skills and add valuable references to your resume that equips you for future planetary science internships and employment. Students looking for planetary science internships find opportunities at many local and international organizations, including:

  • NASA
  • Harris Corp.
  • Lockheed-Martin
  • Leonardo DRS
  • Space Telescope Science Institute

These planetary science internships provide experience that leaves students confident knowing they have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the career world.

Stunning Undergraduate Research Opportunities

In addition to planetary science internships, all Florida Tech students are encouraged to participate in research projects. This may entail hands-on observations with our telescopes or working with data from spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Cassini mission, or the Kepler Space Telescope.

Students may choose from a wide range of research topics in space sciences, with subjects ranging from space weather and solar physics, to planetary geology, exoplanets, and astrobiology. This research, along with experience gathered from planetary science internships, allows our students to stand out among potential employers.

What Can You Do with a Planetary Science Degree?

According to the American Institute of Physics, Florida Tech’s space science program is one of the largest in the US in terms of B.S. degrees awarded annually. In fact, Florida Tech is one of only a few universities in the world to offer a BS in Planetary Science.

All physics and space sciences students are well prepared for entry-level planetary science jobs in high-tech corporations that have research and development divisions, particularly those with ties to the aerospace industry.

Get Recruited Upon Graduation

Employers seek out graduates with a planetary science degree from Florida Tech. Employers who recruit our students for internships and careers include:

  • Boeing
  • Leonardo DRS
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Harris Corporation
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Lockheed-Martin
  • Malin Space Science Systems
  • NASA
  • The Space Telescope Science Institute
  • United Space Alliance

Career Outlook

Whether you want to study the effects of solar activity, examine the properties of planetary bodies in our solar system, or unlock the mysteries of planets around other stars, a space science degree from Florida Tech sets you up for a wide array of planetary science jobs.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), provides information about specific jobs including median annual pay, working conditions and job outlook, among other things. The outlook for planetary science careers can be studied by looking at both Earth Science and Space Science industries. According to the Bureau, jobs in space and atmospheric science are expected to increase by 11% through 2020, as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is expected in both the government at national laboratories and the private sector as weather forecasting and space travel continue to become more sophisticated.

Planetary science jobs can be found at the government level and in education, with many jobs now held at universities. This sector is also expected to grow due to increasing attendance at postsecondary institutions.

Other Career Options

Planetary science jobs are varied and include such challenging professions as:

  • Planetary scientist
  • Astronomer
  • Astronaut
  • Oceanographer
  • Volcanologist
  • Seismologist
  • Environmental geologist
  • Petroleum scientist

Graduate and Doctoral Programs

After receiving their degrees from the Department of Physics and Space Sciences, many students go to post graduate studies at Florida Tech and other prestigious universities including:

  • Auburn University
  • CalTech
  • Dartmouth
  • Georgia Tech
  • Johns Hopkins
  • MIT
  • Notre Dame
  • Ohio State University
  • Rice University
  • SUNY Stony Brook
  • UCLA
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Yale
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