Master of Science and Undergraduate Minor Programs at The Catholic University of America

The sun

Our goal: To provide students with an understanding of space weather system science, including the origins of space weather on the sun, transport of particles and radiation through space, interaction of the solar wind with the magnetosphere, space plasma physics, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes, and the chemistry, dynamics, and electrical properties of the ionosphere and thermosphere.  These programs are built on a strong partnership between CUA and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). 

Why Space Weather?

Collage of solar flares and Northern Lights 
Master of Science in Applied Space Weather Research

  • Students with, or about to earn, bachelor’s degrees in the sciences, mathematics, or engineering and other technical disciplines will be eligible for this Master’s program.
  • Both thesis and non-thesis options will be available, as well as a non-thesis 4+1 track for continuing undergraduates.
  • The thesis option requires:
    • 24 credits of graduate work from the course list and
    • Up to 6 credits of independent, Master’s thesis research on a topic selected in consultation with the student’s program advisor.
    • This topic may be linked to work done in coordination with NASA and CUA scientists at GSFC.
  • The non-thesis option requires:
    • 24 credit hours of graduate work from the course list and
    • 6 additional graduate-level credit hours that may comprise courses taken in other departments at CUA, with the student’s program advisor or the director’s consent.

Minor in Applied Space Weather Research

  • Students currently, or soon to be, enrolled in any major are eligible for this Minor program.
  • Students must complete 18 credit hours for this minor, which includes:
    • 4 three-credit courses from the core courses options and
    • 2-3 electives chosen from those offered on the course list.

The CUA Space Weather Center (SWC)

Photos of the Space Weather Center on campus
Some of the space weather courses will offer a lab component to be taught at CUA’s Space Weather Center.  The SWC will include a variety of instructional resources for students to more easily visualize processes in the space environment.  The Center will be closely linked to NASA/GSFC’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) to provide students the means to interactively run space weather models that simulate the various physical phenomena occurring from the surface of the sun to Earth’s upper atmosphere. 

Current Course List

Core Courses Level Credits
Numerical Methods for Space Weather 400/600 3
Space Plasma Physics 400/600 3
Space Weather System Science 400/600 3
Solar and Heliospheric Physics 400/600 3
Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere Physics 400/600 3
Elective Courses
Space Weather Impacts on Technology and Human Health 400/600 2
Space Weather Policy 400/600 2
Space Weather Forecasting 400/600 2
Space Weather Observations and Sensors 400/600 2
Computational Physics 400/600 3
Advanced Electromagnetic Theory 600 4
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics 400 3
Electricity and Magnetism 400 3
Statistical Mechanics 600 4
Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics I 400/600 3
Mathematical Methods for Theoretical Physics II 400/600 3
Master's Thesis Research 600 6

400 level courses are open to both Minor and Master's students.

600 level courses are reserved for graduate students only.


Photos courtesy of Catholic University and NASA IOTD.