Master of Science in Space Studies (MSSpS) Degree

Program Learning Outcomes for the MSSpS Degree

Upon completing the MSSpS Degree, students will be able to:

  1. Achieve advanced science, engineering, and computational skills and a broad understanding of the methodologies applied in the space industry. 
  2. Gain real life experience in solving technical problems in a science and technology environment.
  3. Develop business and communication skills to bridge the gap between science and business. 

Requirements for the MSSpS Degree

The MSSpS degree is a non-thesis master's degree. For general university requirements, please see Non-Thesis Master's Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. Students pursuing the MSSpS degree must complete:

  • A minimum of 15 courses (minimum of 39 credit hours) to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level study (graduate semester credit hours, coursework at the 500-level or above).
  • A minimum of 24 graduate semester credit hours must be taken at Rice University.
  • A minimum of 24 graduate semester credit hours must be taken in standard or traditional courses (with a course type of lecture, seminar, laboratory, lecture/laboratory). 
  • A minimum residency enrollment of one fall or spring semester of part-time graduate study at Rice University.
  • A maximum of 2 courses (6 graduate semester credit hours) from transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab.
  • A 3-6 month internship. Instead of a thesis, at the conclusion of their internship, students must present their internship project in both oral and written form as part of the Professional Master’s Project (NSCI 512). Part-time students who already work in their area of study may request approval to fulfill the internship requirement by working on a specific, pre-approved project with their current employer.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.67 or higher in all Rice coursework.
  • A minimum program GPA of 2.67 or higher in all Rice coursework that satisfies requirements for the non-thesis master’s degree.

Note: Some of the listed courses are not offered every year, and some may also have prerequisites or require instructor permission.

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this degree program. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the program's academic advisor, or where applicable, the department or program's Director of Graduate Studies. Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the department or program's Official Certifier. Additionally, these must be approved by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the MSSpS Degree39

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
Core Technical Courses
ASTR 570SOLAR SYSTEM PHYSICS3
MECH 578ORBITAL MECHANICS AND MISSION DESIGN3
STAT 605R FOR DATA SCIENCE3
Core Science and Engineering Courses
Select 2 courses (minimum of 6 hours) from the following:6
ASTROPHYSICS OF THE SUN
MICROBIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
METABOLIC ENGINEERING
COMPUTATIONAL FLUID MECHANICS
DESIGN FOR AEROSPACE ENVIRONMENTS
MAGNETOSPHERIC PHYSICS
COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICS
Core Statistics/Computation Courses
Select 1 course (minimum of 3 credit hours) from the following: 13
NUMERICAL ANALYSIS I
ENGINEERING ECONOMICS
APPLIED MACHINE LEARNING AND DATA SCIENCE PROJECTS
DATA SCIENCE METHODS AND DATA MANAGEMENT
GIS FOR SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS
COMPUTATIONAL FLUID MECHANICS
COMPUTATIONAL PHYSICS
NEURAL MACHINE LEARNING I
Cohort Courses
NSCI 501PROFESSIONAL MASTER'S SEMINAR1
NSCI 502SPACE STUDIES SEMINAR1
NSCI 511SCIENCE POLICY, AND ETHICS3
NSCI 512PROFESSIONAL MASTER'S PROJECT1
NSCI 515FOUNDATIONS OF PROJECT AND PROGRAM MANAGEMENT3
NSCI 610 / ENGI 610MANAGEMENT FOR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING3
Three to Six Month Internship
A three to six month internship is required 2
Elective Requirements
Select a minimum of 3 courses (minimum of 9 credit hours) from 1 of the following areas, depending on the student's individual interests and career goals: 19
Engineering
ATOMSPHERIC PARTICULATE MATTER
ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND CLIMATE
STRUCTURAL DYNAMIC SYSTEMS
INTRODUCTION TO ROBOTICS
LEADING TEAMS AND INNOVATION
LEARNING HOW TO INNOVATE?
COMPUTATIONAL FLUID MECHANICS
TURBULENCE
ORBITAL MECHANICS AND MISSION DESIGN
LAUNCH VEHICLE AND SPACECRAFT DESIGN
AEROSPACE PROPULSION
GAS DYNAMICS
DESIGN FOR AEROSPACE ENVIRONMENTS
INTRODUCTION TO AERONAUTICS
INTRODUCTION TO FLIGHT MECHANICS
INTRODUCTION TO HYPERSONIC AERODYNAMICS
Sciences (Astro Science/Earth Science/Life Sciences)
NEBULAR ASTROPHYSICS
ASTROPHYSICS OF THE SUN
PROTOSTARS AND PLANETS
COMPACT OBJECTS
MICROBIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROBIOLOGY
COMPUTATION WITH BIOLOGICAL DATA
CRYOSPHERE
MODERN EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGY
GEOMECHANICS
EARTH SYSTEMS MODELING: NUMERICAL TECHNIQUES AND APPLICATIONS
ROLES OF PHYSICIANS, SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS AND MBA’S IN HIGH-TECH STARTUPS
MAGNETOSPHERIC PHYSICS
RADIATIVE PROCESSES
INTRODUCTION TO PLASMA PHYSICS
Management and Entrepreneurship
LEADING TEAMS AND INNOVATION
LEARNING HOW TO INNOVATE?
FINANCIAL STATEMENT ANALYSIS
BESTSELLERS: THE SCIENCE AND WISDOM
BUSINESS PLAN DEVELOPMENT
ROLES OF PHYSICIANS, SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS AND MBA’S IN HIGH-TECH STARTUPS
APPLIED RISK MANAGEMENT
TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Interdisciplinary Interest Electives
Select 3 courses (9 credit hours) from any of the Electives listed in the areas above
Total Credit Hours39

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Policies for the MSSpS Degree 

Professional Science Master's Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the Professional Science Master's Program publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here: https://gradhandbooks.rice.edu/2021_22/Professional_Science_Masters_Handbook.pdf

Admission

Admission to graduate study in Space Studies is open to qualified students holding a bachelor’s degree in a related science or engineering program that included course work in general physics, chemistry, calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. Good scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE), good critical thinking and communication skills, and strong quantitative abilities. Statistics, introductory economics, and computer skills preferred. Department faculty evaluate the previous academic record and credentials of each applicant individually and make admission decisions.

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities.

Program Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the MSSpS degree should be aware of the following program-specific transfer credit guidelines:

  • No more than 2 courses (6 credit hours) of transfer credit from U.S. or international universities of similar standing as Rice may apply towards the degree.
  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director on an individual case-by-case basis. 

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Space Studies website: https://profms.rice.edu/

Opportunities for the MSSpS Degree 

Fifth-Year Master's Degree Option for Rice Undergraduate Students 

In certain situations and with some terminal master's degree programs, Rice students have an option to pursue a master’s degree by adding an additional fifth year to their four years of undergraduate studies.

Advanced Rice undergraduate students in good academic standing typically apply to the master’s degree program during their junior or senior year. Upon acceptance, depending on course load, financial aid status, and other variables, they may then start taking some required courses of the master's degree program. A plan of study will need to be approved by the student's undergraduate major advisor and the master’s degree program director.

As part of this option and opportunity, Rice undergraduate students:

  • must complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree and the master's degree independently of each other (i.e. no course may be counted toward the fulfillment of both degrees).
  • should be aware there could be financial aid implications if the conversion of undergraduate coursework to that of graduate level reduces their earned undergraduate credit for any semester below that of full-time status (12 credit hours).
  • more information on this Undergraduate - Graduate Concurrent Enrollment opportunity, including specific information on the registration process can be found here.

Rice undergraduate students completing studies in science may have the option to pursue the Master of Science in Space Studies (MSSpS) degree. For additional information, students should contact their undergraduate major advisor, the faculty MSSpS program director, and the Professional Science Master's (PSM) program director. 

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Space Studies website: https://profms.rice.edu/