Astronaut education requirements

June 18, 2017
What school degrees do

Astronaut - Space ExplorationThe application process is rigorous to say the least and those seriously interested must follow the guidance provided in the USAJOBS job announcement and submit all required paperwork. Print out the job announcement and use a highlighter to identify each step that you MUST take to successfully apply. According to USAJOBS, “To receive consideration you must meet the minimum requirements by the closing date of the announcement; and submit all required information by the closing date of the announcement via USAJOBS.” Follow the ‘How to Apply’ section of the job announcement to ensure you provide all information requested.

Completing and submitting a professional application is only half the battle. Applications must also present themselves confidently and professionally in the job interview. Those who prepare for the interview will be better able to handle this often tense final step in the selection process.


Astronauts are involved in all aspects of training for and conducting operations in space, including on the ISS, on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and in the development and testing of future spacecraft. This includes extravehicular activities (EVA), robotics operations using the remote manipulator system, the ability to operate and conduct research experiments, the ability to operate as a safe member of an aircraft crew (including flight planning and communications), and spacecraft maintenance activities. Astronauts also participate in mission simulations to help themselves and flight controllers in the Mission Control Center operate in the dynamic environment of low earth orbit. Additionally, astronauts serve as the public face of NASA, providing appearances across the country, and sharing NASA’s discoveries and goals.

Long-duration missions aboard the ISS generally last from three to six months. Training for long-duration missions is very arduous and takes approximately two to three years. This training requires extensive travel, including long periods away in other countries training with NASA’s international partners.


Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application:

1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

Notes on Academic Requirements:

Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions; specifically, successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor’s degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

The following degree fields are not considered qualifying:

–Degrees in Technology (Engineering Technology, Aviation Technology, Medical Technology, etc.)

–Degrees in Psychology (except for Clinical Psychology, Physiological Psychology, or Experimental Psychology, which are qualifying)

–Degrees in Nursing

–Degrees in Exercise Physiology or similar fields

–Degrees in Social Sciences (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.)

–Degrees in Aviation, Aviation Management, or similar fields

2. At least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1, 000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience. Teaching experience, including experience at the K – 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position, provided the initial degree is qualifying.

3. Ability to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:

Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20, each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.

The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed. Note that such surgeries are permitted, but not required for potential applicants.

Since all crewmembers will be expected to fly aboard a specific spacecraft vehicle and perform EVA activities (spacewalks), applicants must meet the anthropometric requirements for both the specific spacecraft vehicle and the EVA mobility unit (spacesuit). Applicants brought in for an interview will be evaluated to ensure they meet the anthropometric requirements.

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