The Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department graduate program offers both Master of Science (MS) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees.  Students are considered to be on one of two degree tracks, each with different requirements. A brief overview of the main requirements is given here. Please consult the Graduate Handbook for more details.

ASEN Course descriptions may be found in the University Course Catalog.

Focus Areas

The MS and PhD programs in Aerospace Engineering Sciences are organized into four focus areas listed below. Graduate students are admitted into a specific focus area, which provides research advising, financial support, and sets specialized admission and program requirements and recommendations for course work within and outside the department. Focus Areas include:

  1. Aerospace Engineering Systems (AESys)
  2. Astrodynamics and Satellite Navigation Systems (ASN)
  3. Bioastronautics (Bio)
  4. Remote Sensing, Earth and Space Science (RSESS)

A total of 30 semester hours (including courses and thesis hours), at least 24 semester hours of which must be completed at the 5000 level or above, and at least 18 semester hours of ASEN courses. See current or previous ASEN handbooks as applicable.

Students must fulfill a graduate project requirement (6 credit hours) consisting of either: (1) MS thesis, (2) Graduate Projects I and II, or (3) required courses leading to an approved Certificate. Note: MS students interested in using the Remote Sensing Certificate for their degree requirements in lieu of an MS thesis or Graduate Projects I and II are required to take an additional course from topics #1, #2, or #3 (above). Courses taken to meet topic #4 cannot be used to meet the addtional course requirement.

Graduate Projects (ASEN 5018/6028) is a two-semester course sequence designed to expose MS and PhD students to project management and systems engineering disciplines while working a complex aerospace engineering project as part of a project team. The course is also open to students in other engineering departments with the approval of the project professor.

The MS thesis must consist of original and independent research conducted by the graduate student under the supervision of the faculty advisor. The thesis topic must be related to the major field. The thesis must:

  1. Represent the equivalent of 6 semester hours of course work.
  2. Comply in mechanical features with the University of Colorado Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Specifications.
  3. Be filed with the Graduate School by posted deadlines for the semester for which the degree is to be conferred.

The examination committee for the MS thesis will consist of three graduate faculty members. 

Prior to admission to the Ph.D. program, the student must have a graduate advisor (member of the graduate faculty) who has agreed to supervise the student's dissertation research. A student entering the Ph.D. program in Aerospace Engineering Sciences is not required to possess an MS degree; however, the student must have the proficiency required of a holder of the MS degree given in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado to pass the preliminary examination. Until the comprehensive examination is passed, the student is considered a doctoral student. Once passed, the student is admitted to candidacy and officially becomes a Ph.D. candidate.

Total of 36 course credits numbered 5000 or above consisting of 9-12 credits taken at the 6000 level or above, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, and at least 18 credits in ASEN.

Students must pass a departmental preliminary examination, or its equivalent, by no later than the end of the 3rd semester if the student already has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, or the 5th semester if the student does not already have a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.

Students must pass a comprehensive examination by no later than the end of the 5th semester if the student already has an aerospace master’s degree, or the 7th semester if the student does not already have an aerospace master’s degree. Note: students must have completed the 36 required course credits by this semester or the remaining coursework must be pending in the semester in which the comprehensive exam is taken. Students cannot be admitted into candidacy until the necessary coursework is complete. In addition, students need to plan their program such that they meet the requirements of the Graduate School Rules regarding the accumulation of PhD dissertation credits, and within the maximum 6-year program length to complete the PhD. Students must complete a

Ph.D. dissertation and successfully defend the dissertation in a final examination.

Teaching Practicum:

All Ph.D. students are expected to gain teaching experience through a teaching practicum. The teaching practicum reflects one semester of documented teaching experience (equivalent to a 50% appointment) for each Ph.D. student. It may be fulfilled in a number of ways to allow flexibility to the student and their advisor based on interests, skills, and departmental needs. While some teaching activities might be paid assignments from the department (for example, a teaching assistantship or hourly course assistantship), there is no requirement for the teaching practicum to be a paid appointment.

Examples of one semester teaching practicum activities:

  1. Teaching assistant (50% appointment)
  2. Team-teaching a course with advisor
  3. Instructor of record or GPTI
  4. Mentor responsible for UROP, Discovery Learning Apprentice, SURE or SMART student or high school student, for full summer or semester
  5. Coordinator for focus area seminar

The advisor is responsible for specifying the teaching activities required and providing guidance and assistance to the student in this work. For teaching as a research mentor the advisor should set clear expectations for the role of the graduate student mentor and ensure that both the graduate mentor and the undergraduate student(s) they are working with understand the responsibilities and roles of each. Students should complete the teaching practicum tracking sheet available in the back of the Graduate Handbook, prior to, or in the semester of, their final defense.