MSS 2023/2024 introduces a new curriculum designed to reflect the many recent changes in space operations, business and science. Courses, projects, experiments, workshops etc. reflect the current and upcoming activities of the dynamic public and commercial space sector. With the arrival of NewSpace, new business models and partnerships between academia, research organizations and industry are emerging. The space sector is increasingly integrated with other economic sectors, and international cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships will be the key for innovation. The new International Space University (ISU) Master’s program curriculum integrates these global space economy trends to provide cutting edge knowledge in space applications, space science and exploration, space policy, space sustainability, space security, space law, and space entrepreneurship.
The main goal of the new ISU Master’s degree in Space Studies consists of the interdisciplinary formation of space professionals, responding to the needs of the rapidly developing sector. This is combined with a highly specialized expertise in one given field, building on pre-existing studies and professional careers. Completion of the program will provide graduates with a good knowledge of space technology and space science and at the same time allow them to gain expertise in the fields of space business, management, policy, law and economics.
The program provides graduates with a critical awareness of knowledge at the interface of all these fields in order to analyze a complex problem in all its dimensions. In view of the increasing impact of the NewSpace sector, special emphasis is given to entrepreneurial aspects in the space sector, covering the creation and financing of space start-ups as well as a solid knowledge of project management techniques.
The Master of Space Studies program is composed of core and specialized teaching modules, activities to inculcate best methodological practices, practical and research modules and a professional internship. The program can be extended to a second year for in-depth, space-related research studies. The Master’s covers all aspects of the space domain in a unique ‘3I’ (International, Interdisciplinary, Intercultural) approach and is designed for students from a diverse range of educational, cultural and professional backgrounds.
Throughout the program, group assignments, teamwork and a Team Project educate the students, by example, how to operate in complex and diverse professional teams. Alumni are able to integrate knowledge from different fields to address the wide-ranging projects and challenges of the space sector, and work both independently and in a team, notably within an international and/or interdisciplinary environment.
The MSS 2023/2024 is currently structured as a one-, 1.5 year or two-year program.
The first year (MSS Year A) is delivered primarily at the ISU Central Campus in Strasbourg (France) between 4 September 2023 and 21 June 2024, followed by an internship of 3-6 months duration.
Some students will take only MSS year A and graduate with a Master’s degree of Space Studies.
During the first year (MSS Year A), students who perform academically at an appropriate level can apply for the additional Master’s thesis and conduct in-depth space research either at ISU, or at an appropriate host university. These students will graduate with an MSc in Space Studies and Thesis degree.
MSS Year A is an intensive year worth 75 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Both semesters count as a total of 60 ECTS and the Internship as 15 ECTS. It consists of several modules:
In the first semester, Module 1 students select out of a portfolio of Electives on Fundamentals (Engineering and Design Principles, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Policy/Economics and Law, Business and Management, Humanities). The selection is based upon the student’s individual undergraduate (or prior) knowledge of the fundamentals of disciplines they are less familiar with. This foundation will prepare them for the in-depth content of courses in the following modules.
In the first semester, Module 2 allows students to broaden and deepen their understanding of Interdisciplinary Space Studies and the ways in which scientific, engineering, political, legal, and commercial activities interact in within the space sector and with related Earth activities. The academic content is focused on the knowledge required for further in-depth content delivered on the specific subject areas of the track system in the second semester. Graduates will obtain a robust understanding of space engineering and space applications, as well as a good knowledge of space exploration and the physical and life sciences in space environment. In addition to this, all graduates obtain an understanding of global space policy and regulations. Additionally, students acquire knowledge in “Scientific Methods and Professional Skills” in Module 2 and are trained in Scientific paper writing in preparation for the Team Project, their internship and/or Master’s thesis.
In the second semester, students choose a specialized curriculum. Module 3 provides multiple specialized tracks to allow the students to acquire in-depth knowledge on one core subject area of Space Studies and consists of Lectures, Workshops, Independent Studies, Advanced Studies, Project-based Learning, Laboratory Work, Field Trips, Group Assignments and Professional Visits. Interdisciplinary workshops across all tracks allow students to obtain a high-level academic interdisciplinary knowledge, work together as a team and integrate cross-disciplinary aspects.
This track provides content in space systems engineering and space applications including the recent advancements in Earth observations, telecommunication, and navigation systems. Students will learn to identify, formulate, and solve advanced problems in aerospace engineering and the applications of satellite technologies. They will apply knowledge and understanding of space systems, innovative technologies and project management principles in multidisciplinary environments.
This track provides content in astronomy and planetary science as well as robotic and crewed space exploration missions to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and to deep space. Students will study the evolution of the universe and the origin and evolution of our Solar System as well as the characteristics of exoplanets. Students will also learn about current and future robotic and human exploration missions and challenges for the health of humans living and working in space.
This track provides content in space policy and law, space business and entrepreneurship. Students will learn about the main policy drivers of world space actors, the various dimension of the space economy, the international space legal frameworks, and management techniques applied to the space sector. Furthermore, students will learn to develop successful business plans and will attend specific workshops and activities in relevant domains to this track.
The Team Project (TP) is organized in Module 4 in the second semester. Students engage in a Literature Review on the topic of the TP in preparation for in-depth, original research. The TP module is intended to develop the ability of students to work on a significant space-related problem in a 3I team environment, integrating the learning from the core modules together with relevant individual and team study.
The Internship allows students without previous experience to establish a first real-world contact, working in a space-related organization. Equally, students with prior work experience can undertake an internship in another field, in order to gain a broader view of the space sector and valuable experience. The internship will certainly enhance networking links essential for further professional development. The 3-6 months internship is usually carried out in a space organization, space industry or start-ups, or another appropriate host institution. Supported and advised by ISU’s Resident Faculty, students identify internship opportunities related to their particular interests and career goals.
Professional Visits: during the academic year, students can visit significant space-related enterprises and facilities in Europe. In the last three years, MSS students were hosted by SES in Luxembourg, ESA’s European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt (Germany), Telespazio Germany in Darmstadt, Aerial Strasbourg- a successful local small-and-medium enterprise, that combines on a single site a multidisciplinary team of researchers, managers and engineers, IRCAD France – a medical research institute and the Strasbourg Planetarium. MSS students also participate in a field trip to Geopark Ries Crater- the best preserved and best studied impact craters on Earth. Every academic year, new professional visits are organized such as study visits to Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics and Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg , Germany (for MSS23 cohort).
MSS Year A must be completed in full-time mode.
MSS Thesis consists of a single module:
A Master’s thesis can be completed in full-time mode or in part-time mode after completion of Year A. Eligible students choose, develop, and conduct their individual research project, either at ISU with an ISU Resident Faculty advisor, or with one of ISU’s collaborating university partners. The student will write up the research in the form of a Master’s thesis, which will be defended in front of a committee, consisting of project advisors and at least one other ISU faculty member.
A significant part of the ISU academic programs are delivered by Resident Faculty who provide teaching and advisory support to all ISU programs and activities.
A number of the ISU Faculty not resident at ISU are involved in supporting the MSS as Visiting Lecturers or as mentors for students during their internships.
Before the start of the MSS program, students are given the opportunity to attend a week of intensive French classes to help with daily life in Strasbourg.
We highly recommend taking advantage of these classes in order to obtain a good basic level of French early on, before the program work intensifies.
These French classes are continued during M1-ITS at two levels: Beginner and Intermediate.
The MSS program curriculum is continuously updated to provide cutting edge education that reflects the rapid developments in the space sector, increased entrepreneurship and commercial opportunities.
Applicants for the MSS program 2023-2024 should apply on the ISU website and send the requested documents by 15 March 2023 if they are in need of financial aid, and by 30 June 2023 otherwise.
Early applications are recommended, and for applications received after the 15 March deadline, remaining partial scholarships will be granted on a first come first served basis until they run out.
Once candidates are admitted to the Master’s programme, they are put in contact with the Student Affairs Office to prepare their arrival in Strasbourg.
Here are the main questions candidates ask: