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Program Overview

C319 Physics-Astronomy Building

Astrobiology -- the study of life in the universe -- investigates the wide range of multidisciplinary factors that may influence the origin and evolution of life on Earth and beyond. Such investigation demands intense interdisciplinarity, for which the astrobiology program at the University of Washington is creating a new community of scholars, investigators, and educators -- a community skilled in multidisciplinary methods and thinking that pushes boundaries beyond the commonplace with intellectual vigor, creativity, and rigorous methodology.

Astrobiology at the University of Washington builds on the strengths of traditional academic structure to transcend the limits of specialization through the synergy of multidisciplinary cooperation in both research and education.

The internationally recognized graduate certificate program offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum in cooperation with the PhD programs of participating departments. The program's unique features bond students and faculty from widely disparate departments. Participating graduate students gain the personal and professional skills necessary to successfully engage in multidisciplinary collaborations.

The emerging field of astrobiology benefits from and is shaped by the perspectives of multiple disciplines directed at a common problem. It benefits also from the breadth of perspective offered by diversity in culture and race among the program's participants.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
C304 Physics-Astronomy, Box 351580
(206) 685-2392

Graduate Certificate Program

Admission Requirements

UW academic departments participating in the graduate certificate program in astrobiology provide expertise in the following primary collaborating disciplines:

  • Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Astronomy
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Genome Sciences
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • History (of Science)
  • Microbiology
  • Oceanography

Students wishing to participate in the astrobiology graduate certificate program must be accepted for admission by the PhD program of one of these departments. Contact the appropriate participating department for PhD program application requirements and deadlines.

Certificate Requirements

15 credits minimum, to include:

  1. ASTBIO 501, ASTBIO 502
  2. Three astrobiology-only seminar series (1 credit)
  3. One cognate course approved by the student's advisory committee to ensure sufficient breadth (see program website for current list of cognate courses)
  4. One quarter of a research rotation in an area outside the student's home discipline (3 to 10 credits)
  5. Participation in a minimum of three workshops comprising the capstone experience (non-credit)
  6. Astrobiology ethics seminar (variable credits)

Additional credits may be earned through:

  • Other approved cognate courses
  • Astrobiology public lecture series (1 credit)

Successful completion of the certificate requires a minimum cumulative 3.00 GPA for all required courses and a minimum 2.7 grade for each elective course.