Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary scientific field of study that examines the origins and distribution of life in the universe. The Astrobiology minor is designed to educate students to cover the range of scientific disciplines that contribute to our general understanding of life, the origin of life, the past history of life on Earth, and the possible existence of life on other planets and moons. The principal goal of the minor is to develop student literacy in astrobiology so that they can critically evaluate claims related to this field reported in the news media and popular culture.

Learning Goals

Students completing this program will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate scientific issues related to Astrobiology discussed in the media and popular culture;
  2. Apply the scientific method to investigate problems in multiple scientific disciplines;
  3. Interpret and analyze field and laboratory data;
  4. Communicate technical information effectively (orally, in writing, and/or through electronic media).


For information about the minor, students should contact Dr. Nathan Yee, the Astrobiology faculty advisor, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Dr. Lauren Neitzke Adamo, the EPS undergraduate program director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Students must complete 01:460:225 Astrobiology (3 cr) plus 9 credits from Group A Courses and 6 credits from Group B courses for a total 18 credits.  At least two courses must be 300-level or higher.  Students cannot use the same course to satisfy requirements in a major and the Astrobiology minor. The minor is not open to students with majors in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Other restrictions are noted below:

Group A Courses

01:460:203 Building and Maintaining a Habitable Planet (3 cr) Kopp None
01:460:212 Earth and Life Through Time (3 cr) Wright None
01:460:222 Planet Mars (3 cr) Gross None
01:460:224 Geology of Moons and Planets (3 cr) Ojha None
01:460:304 Introduction to Geochemistry (4 cr) Godfrey / Mortlock [01:460:100 Planet Earth & 01:460:103 Introductory Geology Laboratory] or 01:460:101 Introductory Geology; 01:160:161 General Chemistry
01:460:305 Evolution and Geologic Time (3 cr) Aubry 01:460:100 Planet Earth or 01:460:101 Introductory Geology
01:460:441 Structure and Formation of the Terrestrial Planets (3 cr) Bermingham / Levin 01:460:302 Petrology or 304 Intro. to Geochemistry or 306 Intro. to Geophysics or by permission of instructo
01:460:476 History of the Earth System (3 cr) Falkowski Intro Chemistry, Intro Biology and Intro Physics or by permission
01:460:480 Major Events in Earth History (3 cr) Staff By permission of instructor


Group B Courses

Course Instructor Prerequisites Restrictions
01:750:341 Principles of Astrophysics Buckley General Physics: 01:750:194 or 202 or 204, 228 or 273 Astrophysics majors must select another course.
01:750:342 Principles of Astrophysics Gawiser General Physics 01:750:194 or 202 or 204, 228 or 273 Astrophysics majors must select another course.
11:115:100 Molecules of Life1 (3 cr) Crane None Biochemistry and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry majors must select another course.
11:680:201 Introduction to Microbiology (3 cr) Rauschenbach 1 semester of general biology & general chemistry or by permission Microbiology majors must select another course.
11:216:251 Fundamentals of Evolution (3 cr) Struwe / Duffy General Biology (01:119:101/102 or 01:119: 116/117) Ecology & Evolution & Natural Resources majors must select another course.


 1Students will not receive credit for 11:115:100 if they have already completed 01:119:150 Biology, Society and Biomedical Issues.