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Students join SSDL as either Masters or Ph.D. students. Many start off as Masters students and continue on for their Ph.Ds. All students are expected to perform some kind of research. Doctoral candidates will work on their dissertation while Masters candidate conduct research through a thesis or a special projects option. Almost all SSDL students are students with the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and are obligated to satisfy all requirements put forth both by the AE School and Graduate Studies Office. 

M.S. Program

The requirements for Masters degree are stated below:


Students opting for the Thesis option must select their topic in their first year and pass both a Thesis proposal and a Thesis defense. 

AE Ph.D. Program

The Georgia Tech AE doctoral curriculum includes coursework, research, a qualifying examination, an approved thesis proposal, and an approved thesis defense. The following table summarizes the credit requirements for a Ph.D student:


SSDL students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. typically take the qualifying examinations in their second/third year of graduate work. They select System Design Optimization(Space Vehicles) and a secondary area which is relevant to their research. More information about the quals can be found here.


SSDL students usually take a mixture of AE amd MATH classes that are relevant to their research, along with classes from other departments such as ME, ECE, CS, EAS etc. Below is a non-exhaustive list of classes that our students typically take:

AE 6353 : Orbital Mechanics (Offered every fall)

AE 6530 : Multivariable Linear Systems and Control (Offered every fall)

AE 6310 : Optimization for the Design of Engineered Systems (Offered every spring)

AE 6520 : Advanced Flight Dynamics (Offered every spring)

AE 6450: Rocket Propulsion (Offered every fall)

AE 8803 : Satellite Orbit Determination

ISyE 6739 : Basic Statistical Methods