Ph.D. in Space Science

Our new Ph.D. program is currently under review by the State of Alabama. Upon approval, students will be able to enroll in a Ph.D. degree program in Space Science (estimated start date Spring 2015). The following information is provided for prospective students who are considering a degree in Space Science from UAH.


Requirements for a Ph.D. degree

  1. Complete the core coursework (24 credit hours), see Core courses below.
  2. Complete an additional 24 credit hours of elective courses. These are chosen from the Elective courses list.
  3. Pass the Comprehensive Examination ("Comps"). The Comps are offered annually during the Summer semester and consist of three sections: (a) Electromagnetic theory, (b) Classical and quantum statistics, and (c) Plasma physics. A passing grade of 60% or above in all three sections is required for a Ph.D. pass.
  4. Give at least two seminar (Journal Club) presentations. Students are encouraged to share the results of their research work with their peers and faculty members. Journal Club presentations are part of the regular Space Science seminar series.
  5. Pass the Ph.D. qualifier exam. This step involves writing a dissertation proposal and forming a Ph.D. committee, that would normally consist of the student's faculty adviser and at least three other members from the UAH graduate faculty. We encourage students to invite at least one committee member from another department or research center.
  6. Complete the required number of dissertation units (SPA799).
  7. Write and defend the Ph.D. dissertation.
  8. Student must have a first authored peer reviewed paper published or accepted in a major international journal before their graduation date. Examples of acceptable journals include The Astrophysical Journal, Journal of Geophysical Research, Physics of Plasmas, Geophysical Research Letters, and Physical Review.


Core courses

  • SPA522 Introduction to Plasma Physics
  • MA607, MA609 Mathematical Methods I and II
  • SPA622 Classical and Quantum Statistics
  • PH631, PH732 Electromagnetic Theory I and II
  • SPA623 Transport Processes in Space
  • SPA624 Space Physics I


Elective Courses

  • SPA625 Space Physics II
  • SPA626 Introduction to Space Weather
  • SPA629 Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
  • SPA630 Waves in Fluids
  • SPA662 Computational Physics
  • SPA663 Computational Fluid Dynamics and MHD
  • SPA741 Physics of Cosmic Rays
  • SPA742 Gamma Ray Bursts and Jets
  • SPA771 Competitive Grant Writing Workshop
  • SPA689, SPA789 Special Topics

In adition, the following courses offered in other departments will count toward the 24 credit hour elective course requirement: PH574, PH601, PH651, PH652, PH661, MAE520, MAE651.


Sample doctoral programs of study


Entered in odd years

 Year 1  Fall  SPA522, SPA662, MA607
   Spring  MA609, MAE520, PH631
 Year 2  Fall  SPA624, SPA662, PH732
   Spring  SPA663, SPA623
 Year 3  Fall  SPA626, MAE651
   Spring  SPA625, SPA741, SPA771


Entered in even years

 Year 1  Fall  SPA552, SPA622, MA607
   Spring  MA609, MAE520, PH631
 Year 2  Fall  SPA624, SPA626, PH732
   Spring  SPA625, SPA623, SPA741
 Year 3  Fall  MAE651, SPA662
   Spring  SPA663