2022-2023

Astrobiology, Minor

Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

Astrobiology is one of the fastest developing subfields of astronomy and planetary science, with a particular emphasis on the formation of life on Earth and other planets, survival in extreme environments, and the “migration” of life through space. This minor combines a broad astronomical perspective and understanding to students with interests in the formation, evolution, and survival of life on Earth under a variety of environmental conditions. Students minoring in Astrobiology will be prepared to provide a cosmic perspective to more traditional biological and ecological fields, while this strong biological and ecological background will also enable students to truly appreciate the uniqueness of Earth and comparisons to other planetary bodies both within and outside of our own solar system.
 

  • A minor is earned in conjunction with a bachelor's degree.

    To receive a minor (18 to 24 units) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject matter areas with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0. At least 12 units of the minor must be unique to that minor and not applied to any other minor.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

No more than 50% of the units used to satisfy minor requirements may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 23
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 137

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this minor in Astrobiology is to combine a broad astronomical perspective and understanding to students with interests in the formation, evolution, and survival of life on Earth under a variety of environmental conditions.  The wide variety of electives available through this minor option highlights the interdisciplinary nature of this growing field and emphasizes the unique avenues that students can pursue to gain a strong foundational background in this growing field.  Specific courses in microbiology, astronomical scales and perspectives, and biological responses to environmental factors will constitute the bulk of the required coursework.  Students minoring in Astrobiology will be prepared to provide a cosmic perspective to more traditional biological and ecological fields, while this strong biological and ecological background will also enable students to truly appreciate the uniqueness of Earth and comparisons to other planetary bodies both within and outside of our own solar system.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students minoring in Astrobiology will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the properties and conditions that likely lead to the formation of life at or near planetary surfaces;
  • Understand the linkages between biological evolution and the geological and astronomical conditions that facilitate, promote, encourage, and require such evolution to occur;
  • Describe what makes the Earth unique from the perspective of planetary habitability, and articulate the challenges that must be overcome on other planetary bodies; and
  • Critically evaluate the requirements necessary to perform “traditional” biological and ecological studies on other planetary bodies, which would help to inform current efforts to search for extraterrestrial life beyond Earth.

Minor Requirements