The Master of Science in Space Studies is an interdisciplinary degree with concentrations in aerospace science, astronomy, or space policy. The curriculum for this online space studies program – originally designed by former NASA astronaut Dr. James Reilly, veteran of three shuttle missions and five spacewalks – offers in-depth research projects and prepares you to meet the challenges associated with humankind’s exploration and usage of space.

This master’s program is taught by experienced astronomy and aerospace leaders who are practitioners in their fields. Knowledge obtained from this program is useful preparation for a career as an aerospace operations engineer/technician, observatory telescope operator, planetarium astronomer, space industry administrator, space journalist, or military space systems specialist. And, because the program offers 18 hours of graduate credits in the discipline, it will prepare you to teach at a college level.

Degree Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and degree level learning objectives, graduates of this program are expected to achieve these learning outcomes:

  • Develop an appreciation of the foundations and importance of space studies in the role of human space exploration/understanding of the cosmos.
  • Analyze quantitative and qualitative research and statistical data related to the support of aerospace science, astronomy, or space policy concepts.
  • Assess the history, chronology, and concepts for placing manned and unmanned vehicles in space.
  • Evaluate the importance of remote sensing satellites used to observe our Earth and other celestial bodies in the Solar System.
  • Synthesize the psychological and physiological elements necessary to support human life in the space environment, including spacesuit design/development.

Degree at a Glance

Core Requirements15
Select one of the following concentrations:18
Elective Requirements0
Final Program Requirements3
Total Semester Hours36

Degree Program Requirements

Core Requirements (15 semester hours)

SPST501Introduction to Space Studies 13
SPST500Research Methods in Space Studies3
SPST503Chronology of Space3
SPST504Remote Sensing Satellites3
SPST619The Psychology and Physiology of Space3
Total Semester Hours15

Students must choose a concentration for this degree program and may select from the Aerospace Science Concentration, Astronomy Concentration, or Space Policy Concentration.

Concentration in Aerospace Science (18 semester hours)

Provides an in-depth study in the discipline, with emphasis in both aircraft and spacecraft design/operations. Students take courses with comprehensive overviews of such topics as aircraft propulsion, aerodynamics and, aircraft design in addition to learning about orbital mechanics, rocket propulsion, and spacecraft design.


Upon successful completion of this concentration, the student will be able to:

  • Categorize the laws of orbital mechanics -- calculate and illustrate the effects that gravity has on two-body mechanics including spacecraft maneuvers such as transfer orbits and rendezvous.
  • Apply scientific principles and calculate problems related to aircraft propulsion systems.
  • Examine liquid and solid rocket propulsion fundamentals including propellants, combustion principles, components, and general turbo-pump, and motor design.
  • Assess the development, technology, and importance of satellite communications in our modern technological society.
  • Synthesize the fundamentals of aerodynamics and aircraft / spacecraft design, building upon past and current technology to shape innovations for the future.

Concentration Requirements (18 semester hours)

SPST502Introduction to Orbital Mechanics3
SPST611Aircraft Propulsion Systems3
SPST612Rocket Propulsion3
SPST613Satellite Communications3
SPST616Aircraft Design3
Total Semester Hours18

Astronomy Concentration Requirements (18 semester hours)

Prepares you for employment in the observatory, planetarium, or college classroom. A diverse range of courses provide an inclusive synopsis of astronomy – from the Solar System to stars and galaxies. You will learn about astronomical instrumentation, with the opportunity to access the university’s observatory and the PlaneWave CDK24 robotic telescope.


Upon successful completion of this concentration, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of Solar System -- including planets, comets, asteroids, and meteorites.
  • Analyze the celestial objects found beyond our Solar System: stars, exoplanets, galaxies, and possible extraterrestrial life.
  • Evaluate the geology of the Moon and Mars as related to their significance for near future human exploration of the Solar System.
  • Critique the various configurations of telescopes and their use in the exploration of all types of electromagnetic radiation – from radio waves to gamma rays.
  • Synthesize the history of astronomy, from ancient Greece to our modern cosmological model of the universe.

Concentration Requirements (18 semester hours)

SPST630Planetary and Solar System Studies3
SPST631Astrophysical Studies3
SPST632Lunar Geology3
SPST633Astronomical Instrumentation3
SPST634Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites3
SPST635History of Astronomy3
Total Semester Hours18

Space Policy Concentration Requirements (18 semester hours)

Cultivates leaders in the space industry, not only in NASA, but in the commercial realm of space operations. This concentration is ideal if you already have an administrative or business background. Coursework includes space diplomacy and law, space operations and organizations, as well as the historical, political, economic, legal, commercial, scientific, and technical challenges comprising this complex and rapidly changing discipline.


Upon successful completion of this concentration, the student will be able to:

  • Examine the political and commercial significance of major national and international space missions, projects, and operations.
  • Evaluate organizations that are critical to the success of the technological advance of space infrastructure in the United States.
  • Assess the status of space cooperation and diplomacy between various space faring nations.
  • Synthesize space laws and how the governing institutions affect applications, such as remote sensing, communications, navigation, launch services, satellite exports, and arms control.

Concentration Requirements (18 semester hours)

SPST621Current and Emerging Space Powers3
SPST622Space Policy3
SPST623National Space Organization3
SPST628Space Operations Structure and Design3
SPST640Space Cooperation and Diplomacy3
SPST671Space Law3
Total Semester Hours18

Elective Requirements (0 semester hours)

Final Program Requirements (3 semester hours)

Select 1 course from the following:3
Space Studies Capstone Portfolio 1
Space Studies Capstone 1
Total Semester Hours3