Graduate Degrees in Space Engineering

Master’s Degree in Space Engineering

Graduate Option Rep

Beverley J. McKeon

Option Coordinator

Christine Ramirez
aerospaceSymbolatcaltech.edu

The Masters Degree Program in Space Engineering is a one year program that provides advanced training in the areas of aeronautics or aerospace beyond that covered in a four year undergraduate program. The program consists of a set of five core courses (see details below). There is no research requirement nor is a thesis required to obtain the degree.

Admission

Students with a baccalaureate degree equivalent to that given by the Institute are eligible to seek admission to work toward the master’s degree in aeronautics. Students are asked to submit course transcripts, letters of recommendation as well as GRE scores and evidence of English language proficiency as detailed in the graduate application. It should be noted that the graduate program at GALCIT is primarily focused on PhD level research and so priority in admission is given to those who plan to ultimately perform PhD level research.

Course Requirements

AAReST Space Mission

The space engineering class project is currently focused on the AAReST space mission. Link to further details.

A program of study consists of courses totaling at least 138 units; of these, at least 84 units must be in the following subject areas:

  • Fluid mechanics 27 units
  • Solid/structural mechanics 27 units
  • Mathematics or applied mathematics 27 units
  • Aerospace engineering seminar 3 units

An additional 27 units are required as follows:

  • a course in experimental techniques and laboratory work for the master’s degree in aeronautics, or
  • a course in space engineering for the master’s degree in space engineering.

The remaining 27 units of electives are to be chosen from courses at Caltech that support the broader goals of the respective programs, subject to the approval of the option representative. Students must have a proposed program approved by their adviser prior to registration for the first term of work toward the degree.

Admission to More Advanced Degrees

Students who successfully complete the requirements for the masters degree and who wish to pursue the more advanced degrees of Aerospace Engineer or Ph.D. must file a petition to continue work toward the desired degree. All students working for the engineer’s degree or the Ph.D. degree are expected to register for and attend one of the advanced seminars (Ae 208 abc or Ae/AM 209 abc).

Degree of Aerospace Engineer

The degree of Aerospace Engineer is considered to be a terminal degree for the student who desires advanced training more highly specialized than the master’s degree permits, but with less emphasis on research than is appropriate for the Ph.D. degree.

Admission

Students with a Master of Science degree equivalent to that given by the Institute may seek admission to work for the engineer’s degree. It should be noted that the graduate program at GALCIT is primarily focused on PhD level research and so priority in admission is given to those who plan to ultimately perform PhD level research.

Program Requirements

The degree of Aerospace Engineer is awarded after satisfactory completion of at least 138 units of graduate work equivalent to the Master of Science program described above, plus at least 135 additional units of advanced graduate work. This latter program of study and research must consist of

  • not less than 60 units of research in aerospace (Ae 200);
  • three units of an advanced seminar such as Ae 208; and
  • satisfactory completion (with a grade of C or better, or Pass) of at least 27 units of aerospace courses numbered Ae 200 or higher, or CE/Ae/AM 108, Ae/ME 120, and Ae/Ge/ME 160, excluding research and seminars.

A proposed program conforming to the above regulations must be approved by the student’s adviser prior to registration for the first term of work toward the degree.

A thesis is required based on a research program and may consist of the results of a theoretical and/or experimental investigation or may be a comprehensive literature survey combined with a critical analysis of the state of the art in a particular field.

No student will be allowed to continue to work toward the degree of Aerospace Engineer for more than six terms of graduate residence beyond the baccalaureate degree (not counting summer registrations) except by permission after petition to the aerospace faculty.

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Admission

Students with a baccalaureate degree equivalent to that given by the Institute are eligible to seek admission to work toward the degree of doctor of philosophy (PhD) in aeronautics or space engineering. Students are asked to submit course transcripts, letters of recommendation as well as GRE scores and evidence of English language proficiency as detailed in the graduate application. The courses required for the masters degree must without exception be completed in one year.

Course Requirements

The course requirements for the first year of the PhD degree are identical to those of the Masters degree. All students admitted to graduate study for the PhD degree with a baccalaureate degree equivalent to that given by the institute must, without exception, undertake in their first year, a course of study that would qualify them for the Masters degree described above. The student may elect to receive the Masters degree at the end of their first year after completion of these courses.''

Research adviser

Students wishing to pursue studies leading to the Ph.D. must select and be accepted by a research adviser by the end of their first year of study and prior to taking the qualifying examination described below.

Qualifying Examination

After the first year of graduate study the student must pass a qualifying examination. The objective of the qualifying examination is to determine if the student is properly prepared and qualified to pursue problems typical of Ph.D. level research. The exam will cover the following subjects:

  • Fluid mechanics (Ae/APh/CE/ME 101 abc)
  • Solid mechanics (Ae/AM/CE/ME 102 abc)
  • Mathematics (ACM 100abc)

The material covered in these examinations is at the same general level and breadth as covered in the corresponding first year courses. The examinations are offered during one week in the first half of the first term, in the second year of graduate residence at the Institute.

A student is examined orally on all three of these topics. In the event of an unsatisfactory performance, the examining faculty members may permit a repeat examination in the appropriate topics. The repeat examination must be scheduled prior to finals week of the second term and must be completed before the end of the third term of the same year.

Candidacy

To be recommended for candidacy for the Ph.D. in aerospace, the applicant must

  • have satisfactorily completed at least 138 units of graduate work equivalent to the above Master of Science program
  • must pass, with a grade of C or better, 27 units of graduate-level ACM courses beyond ACM 95/100, and
  • complete (with a grade of C or better, or Pass) at least 45 units of aerospace courses numbered Ae 200 or higher, or Ae/ME 120 and Ae/Ge/ME 160, excluding research and seminars.

In addition to fulfilling these course requirements, the applicant must pass a candidacy examination in the second or third year of residence at the Institute but in any case no later than the third quarter of the third year of residency. This examination aims at determining whether the student is successful in integrating formal course work into a mature understanding of fundamental engineering concepts, and at demonstrating his or her professional competence in applying these concepts to the problems being addressed in the course of their PhD research.

Minor

No minor is required for the Ph.D. degree. Students are, however, encouraged to take advanced courses appropriate to their particular interests.

Foreign Languages

The student is encouraged to discuss with his or her adviser the desirability of studying foreign languages but there is no formal foreign language requirement for the PhD degree.

Thesis and Final Examination

Before graduation, each candidate is required to give a public seminar presenting the results of his or her thesis research. For final examination and thesis completion, see the general degree requirements and the section on Examinations, Committees, and Student Responsibilities regarding aerospace in the Caltech catalog.

Department of Aerospace (GALCIT)