Exploration Systems Design (Instrumentation), PhD

Prepare for professional and academic careers with a program that combines the strengths of science and engineering. You will work with faculty in the natural sciences and engineering to design instrumentation for exploration including digital systems and circuits, computer/controlled systems, analog-to-digital converters and solid-state electronics.


The exploration systems design PhD program offers an advanced systems approach for developing scientific exploration technologies in a range of demanding environments on Earth and in space.

This transdisciplinary degree program provides a unique platform to train systems engineers targeting technological development for exploration science. This is a collaborative program between the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering that allows students to specialize in topics related to planetary exploration, astronomical instrumentation, robotics, sensors and sensor networks.

The curriculum integrates the School of Earth and Space Exploration's science, instrumentation and systems engineering core courses with related coursework from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Students must select a concentration in instrumentation, systems engineering, or sensor networks. The instrumentation concentration prepares students in the development of state of the art sensors and systems for remote and in-situ sensing related to planetary science, earth science and astronomy.

At a Glance

  • Location: Tempe campus
  • Additional Program Fee: No
  • Second Language Requirement: No

Degree Requirements

Required Core (1 credit hour)
SES 502 Exploring SESE Research (1)

Electives or Research (61 credit hours)

Other Requirements (1 credit hour)
SES 501 SESE Colloquium (1)

Concentration (9 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
SES 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
When approved by the student's supervisory committee and the Graduate College, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree in a related field to be used for this degree. Related fields include, but are not limited to, engineering, computer science, geological sciences or physics.

As part of the electives or research, students take two science courses selected from the SESE graduate catalog (GLG, SES, or AST prefixes). Substitutions may be made per academic unit approval.

Substitutions for Other Requirements may be made per department approval.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admissions application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. statement of purpose
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

Students should see the program website for application deadlines.

Instrumentation concentration: An undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering is preferred.