Space Weather Graduate Study


Students wishing to study Space Weather at the graduate level have two options for Ph.D. programs:

Courses listed below can be used to fulfill some of the requirements of both degrees.

The main objective of the Ph.D. program for students wishing to specialize in Space Weather is to train students to be research scientists for future careers in academia, industry, and government. The program provides students with an interdisciplinary academic environment to comprehensively develop their ability/intellect to successfully pursue a scientific career in all aspects of Space Weather. The graduates of this program should therefore be better capable of attacking the interdisciplinary research problems that characterize the new challenges we face in the coming years than students whose graduate coursework and research is entirely within a single discipline.

The basic requirement for entry as a graduate student is a science degree and computational experience. However, the system is flexible and provides opportunities for taking courses to compensate for deficiencies in a student’s educational background. We accept full-time and part-time graduate students.

Curriculum Requirements

Physics Ph.D.

See [2]


For the Ph.D. in Computational and Data Sciences [1], there is a Space Sciences and Computational Astrophysics concentration with the following requirements:

  • CSI 785 Electromagnetic Theory
  • CSI 661 Astrophysics, or CSI 662 Space Weather
  • CSI 769 Space Plasma Physics, or CSI 764 Computational Astrophysics,
  • Two from: CSI 763 Statistical Methods in Space Sciences, CSI 780 Computational Physics and Applications, CSI 782 Statistical Mechanics for Modeling and Simulation, CSI 783 Computational Quantum Mechanics, CSI 721 Computational Fluid Dynamics

Course Notes

See Courses Taught for a list of past and present course taught by GMU faculty.

CSI 796 (Directed Reading and Research) Depending on interest and needs of students, reading courses on Space Weather topics may be offered:

  • Special Topics in Solar, Heliospheric, Magnetospheric, and Ionospheric Physics
  • Special Topics in Processes and Techniques: Radiative transfer, spectroscopy, space-based data analysis, etc.

CSI 769/ASTR 769 (Topics in Space Sciences) Courses under this heading vary by semester. Previous courses include

  • Magnetospheric Physics
    • Large-scale current systems
    • Ionospheric convection
    • Geomagnetic storms and substorms
    • Waves
    • Solar wind driving of geomagnetic activity
    • The radiation belt
    • The plasma sheet
  • Plasma Physics
    • An introductory course on space plasma physics
  • Introduction to the Space Environment
    • Applicable physics concepts: charged particle orbits, Maxwell and fluid equations, Ohm’s law, diamagnetism, ionization, excitation and radiation. The solar cycle and basic phenomenology of the solar atmosphere and corona
    • Solar wind and the earth’s bow shock,
    • The magnetosphere and geomagnetism,
    • The ionosphere, radio propagation in the ionosphere, and satellite environment effects.
  • Solar Atmosphere. Internal Structure and convection zone, magnetic cycle and solar dynamo; solar atmosphere, observations, spectra, spectroscopy, non-LTE radiative transfer, plasma properties; solar wind observations and theory; solar activity, flares, coronal mass ejections and solar energetic particles; coronal heating, magnetic recombination, MHD, and acceleration and transport of energetic particles.


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