Becoming an astronaut is one of the most competitive jobs on the planet. Each time they ask for applications, NASA gets thousands of applicants and only selects less than fifty. However, persistence, a lot of passion and a solid education can pay off. If you want to become an astronaut, here are some degrees that are the most relevant.
A degree in astrophysics gives you a solid background in the physics, mathematics and cosmology of outer space. It is a similar discipline to general physics, though it specializes in physics from an astronomical point of view. As the discipline that focuses on physics in space, this might be the most straightforward degree to help you become an astronaut.
2. Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineering focuses on being able to build and understand electronics and electronic systems. As space shuttles rely on this kind of technology to function, astronauts being well-versed electrical engineering is a plus. Because grad-level online engineering degrees can take the place of NASA’s relevant experience requirement, getting a master’s in electrical engineering, or any other degree on this list, can be a significant point in your favor.
Many astronauts have a background as pilots, so having a degree in aeronautics or aerospace engineering (the fields of building aircraft and spacecraft) might help get you in the door. Having piloting experience is also helpful—so much so that NASA used to require military jet piloting experience for astronaut applicants, but that is no longer the case. Still, military service is considered a plus. Even if you have not served in the armed forces, an education in aeronautics and good piloting experience can get your application considered.
Biochemistry is the study of chemistry as it applies to living organisms. Biochemists, such as famous astronaut Peggy Whitson, can be invaluable to the science of space exploration. In Ms. Whitson’s case, she made breakthroughs regarding how spaceflight can affect the formation of kidney stones. The more we put people into space, the more biological concerns we will have and the more conditions we can explore, so this degree is also a good option.
NASA has several requirements in astronaut applicants, one of which is a STEM degree, so if you want to be an astronaut, you will need to get a degree in science or mathematics, no exceptions. While it’s true that it is very difficult to become an astronaut, prepare yourself well by obtaining the right education and experience. With some luck and persistence, your effort will pay off.