PhD in Exploration Systems Design


The PhD in Exploration Systems Design offers students an advanced systems approach for developing scientific exploration technologies in a wide range of demanding environments on the Earth, planets, moons, and space. This transdisciplinary degree program provides a unique platform to train systems engineers targeting technological development for exploration science. This degree is offered in collaboration with the Fulton Schools of Engineering (FSE). Students enrolled in this program are required to select a concentration from below:

  • Instrumentation
  • Sensor Networks
  • Systems Engineering


SESE's and FSE's extensive research portfolios across many disciplines allows students to specialize in one area or to explore interdisciplinary topics. Areas of research for the PhD in Exploration Systems Design include, but are not limited to:

  • Planetary Exploration
  • Astronomical Instrumentation
  • Sensor Networks
  • Micro/Nano Sensors
  • Robotics
  • Systems Engineering


Students are encouraged to visit the research section of the SESE and FSE websites for information on faculty research and the high-tech facilities available for conducting research and systems design and assembly. Interested students are encouraged to make contact with faculty members who conduct research in the area(s) of interest.


Program Requirements

A minimum of 84 semester hours are required for a PhD student to graduate. Students are required to take 6 credit hours of science courses selected from the SESE Graduate Course Catalog; Based on the concentration chosen by the student, they are further required to take 3 core courses as approved by their dissertation committee. The remaining credits consist of research work (12 hours) and additional coursework (57 hours). A Doctoral Comprehensive Examination including both a written and oral component is required for advancement to candidacy. The Ph.D. degree in Exploration Systems Design is awarded when the student has obtained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in coursework, demonstrated expertise in his/her research area(s) made evident through publishable contributions of original research and a successful dissertation oral defense, and has met all deadlines and requirements set by the Graduate College.

Background Requirements for Admission

Applicants of the PhD in Exploration Systems Design must have a bachelor's or graduate degree in science or engineering. Students who are admitted with a bachelor's that is not in their area of study, may be required by the Graduate Committee or their Research Advisor to take additional courses to complete their background. These will be listed as deficiencies in their admission letter and are not expected to count towards their degree requirements. Applicants must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA from their last 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of undergraduate coursework and are required to take the general GRE exam. There are no minimum scores required for the GRE exam. International applicants are required to demonstrate English Proficiency via the TOEFL or IELTS. Minimum required scores can be found at the website: