Graduate Program in Planetary Science


Mars Desert Research Station, Utah

Former CPSX graduate student Melissa Battler collecting a sample at the Mars Desert Research Station, Utah. Image credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart.

Welcome to Canada’s first and only graduate program in Planetary Science. Started in 2008, we now have over 35 students enrolled in M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs. We’re proud of the success of our students. Many have won major scholarships such as NSERC CREATE, PGS/CGS, and Vanier awards.

Here you will find information on the scope of our Planetary Science program, entry requirements, and courses offered. Also, check out research interests of the faculty and recent events at CPSX.

We’re always happy to entertain inquiries from prospective students. Please feel free to contact CPSX Graduate Program Director Dr. Paul Wiegert or CPSX Director Dr. Gordon Osinski for more information on opportunities for Graduate studies in Planetary Science at Western!


The Planetary Science Graduate Program at Western has the following attributes:



CPSX graduate student Marianne Mader searching for meteorites in Antarctica.

  • Emphasis on original student research: Faculty members must have active research programs with funds sufficient to support their students’ research
  • Emphasis on small group discussion of past and current literature and ongoing research in Planetary Science: This will be accomplished through participation in the weekly Planetary Science Seminar Course and attending lectures by outside experts in planetary science as part of the ongoing Planetary Science Research Forum that is sponsored by CPSX
  • Emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach: Each student will benefit, through courses, seminar series, and exposure to planetary science speakers and faculty members with expertise outside their immediate area of study (e.g., on their advisory committee). Students will develop a well-rounded interdisciplinary view of the field to place in context the specialized area in which they choose to perform their research through their home department
  • Emphasis on hands-on experience gained through laboratory or field work. This includes planetary science field school; opportunities to work at planetary analogue field sites including impact craters around the world, the Canadian Arctic, Antarctica, the Mars Desert Research Station, and more; working on planetary analogue missions; or even working on real space missions


Your Connection to the Space Agency and Industry


Jeremy (left) and Oz (right) standing on the edge of a frozen lake near the crater centre. Credit: Oz.

Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen and Dr. Gordon Osinski near the centre of a crater on Victoria Island, Canadian Arctic. Image credit: Gordon Osinski.

In conjunction with government space agencies and industrial partners, many graduate student research projects include elements of field work or simulated planetary missions. For example, many CPSX graduate students participated in the Impacts Lunar Sample Return (ILSR) analogue missions, funded by the Canadian Space Agency. Some traveled to Victoria Island, to receive hands-on field geology training along with Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen, where the team investigated reports of a new suspected meteorite impact crater. In addition, CPSX has enabled internships and with the CSA, NASA, and ESA. Your space job is out there! CPSX can help you get it.


Planetary Science graduate students and post-doctoral fellows on a field trip to the Sudbury Impact Structure, April 2010. Image credit: Ludovic Ferrière.