Knowing "Star Wars" all too well? Having started saving up for a one-way ticket to Mars? Dreaming of a job at the International Space Station? St Petersburg University offers you a range of the following educational programmes. Upon completion of one of them you will have a good chance to pursue a space-related career.

Engineering-Oriented Physics, Bachelor's studies, four years

Roscosmos has recently announced an open competition for becoming a member of a cosmonaut team. They will be trained to fly to the Moon as part of the crew of "Federation", a new Russian spacecraft. Acceptance of documents started on 14 March, and the competition will last until the end of the year.

According to the rules, only holders of higher education diplomas in engineering or aviation with at least three-year experience in aviation are eligible for selection. If a student had an internship in an institution dealing in aviation equipment, it can be credited as work experience.

You are unlikely to graduate and practice until 2018, but you can prepare yourself for a next selection. Our Bachelor's programme "Engineering-Oriented Physics" is aimed at training not only specialists in computer design of technological processes and specialists in research and development, but also facility design engineers who will be truly in demand during near-Earth missions. According to the requirements of non-linguistic higher education programmes of the Russian Federation, a candidate must also be fluent in a foreign language and have at least a "good" mark for their knowledge of Russian. Only a classical university can organise such complex training for its students.

It is known that a cosmonaut must have almost perfect health and get into a spacesuit. For that, the candidate's height the upright position must be from 150 to 190 centimetres, seated — 80–99 centimetres. The maximum sitting hip width must be 41 centimetres, chest circumference — 94–112 centimetres, the foot must not exceed 29.5 centimetres (it is size 46 in Russia), and the body weight must make up from 50 to 90 kg. To keep you fit, we highly recommend that you join "Baltic Eagles", the SPbU sports club.


Astronomy, Bachelor's studies, four years

St Petersburg University is one of the few institutions in the world training professional astronomers. The existing scholarly traditions make students be actively engaged in research directly at the University. It is at SPbU that you can study the large-scale structure of the universe, cosmic microwave background, gravitationally interacting galaxies, as well as stellar physics: development of theory and methods for calculating radiation and mass transfer in stellar interior and atmosphere, analysis of light curves, spectra and polarisation of young stars, stars with protoplanetary disks and galactic X-ray sources.

An in-depth study of physical and mathematical sciences makes graduates of this educational programme universal specialists not only in the field of astronomy, but also in other fields, from theoretical and experimental physics to fundamental mathematics or information technology.

Young experts with such education may be employed both in Russia and beyond, because Russian graduates are highly appreciated worldwide.


Hydrometeorology, Bachelor's studies, four years

Forecasting hydrometeorological phenomena, studying global changes in the Earth climate, monitoring the consequences of natural and man-made disasters are currently the priority areas in the field of Earth remote sensing. You can acquire all this knowledge within the framework of our educational programme "Hydrometeorology". Also, depending on the area of specialisation, students have an opportunity to participate in complex expeditions to all corners of the Earth (Lake Baikal, Antarctica, Alaska, Yamal Peninsula, Sayan Mountains, Altai Mountains, Northern Caucasus) and in marine expeditions from the North Pole to the Southern Ocean.

A hydrometeorologist must be able to carry out observations and use information obtained from stations and installations scattered all around the world, including information from satellites. Based on these data, hydrometeorologists make weather and climate change forecasts, and conduct research. Graduates of the programme work as oceanographers, meteorologists, climatologists, weather engineers, hydrologists, hydroengineers, hydrochemists at the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, departmental research organisations in hydrology, meteorology, oceanology, as well as at research institutes and regional administrations of the Russian Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet).


Biology, Bachelor's studies, four years

Space biology studies the functioning of living organisms in outer space as well as means of constructing life support systems for cosmonauts. Yet, prior to becoming a space biologist, one has to become just a good biologist, and at St Petersburg University students are fundamentally trained in general biology. They also acquire special knowledge and practical skills in a particular area of ​​modern biology.

It is not only in the rocket production laboratories that people are prepared for long-distance space travel. By studying how plants orient themselves in space, SPbU physiologists and plant biochemists are looking for a way to provide cosmonauts with fresh herbs grown in zero-gravity conditions. This scientific area is called gravitational biology of plants. In Russia it is developed practically at SPbU only.

A fundamental understanding of the processes of plant growth and dispersal in space is important for the future success of interplanetary voyages, for the harvest grown in space will be the main (and possibly the only) food source for the crew of the spacecraft. However, scientists are facing many difficulties on their way to growing potatoes on Mars, because so far it has proved impossible to grow plants giving sound seeds even at the International Space Station.

Yet, on 10 August 2015, members of the crew of the 44th ISS expedition managed to treat themselves to lettuce cultivated by themselves using the Veggie system. Young plants were kept in special cushions with nutrient medium, red, blue and green LEDs acting as the sun. American astronaut Scott Kelly, who was in charge of the "garden", boasted on his Twitter a space burger with real lettuce and later wrote: "It was one small bite for man, one giant leap for our journey to Mars."

Read more about the SPbU botanists' research in the "St Petersburg University" journal.


General Medicine, Specialist degree studies, six years

Space medicine is a complex science studying the vital activity of humans and other organisms under space flight conditions. Cosmonauts, whose health must be almost perfect, need constant medical support during their preparation for, in the course of and after the flight.

It is not easy to become a "space" doctor: first you need to graduate in the "General Medicine" specialty, and then proceed by enrolling on the postgraduate programme in the field of study "Aerospace Medicine" at the Sechenov Moscow State Medical University or at RMAPO — but it is worth it. You can start your career at St Petersburg University, which has introduced its own educational standard in the field of study "General Medicine". The University also offers internships at European higher education institutions and work experience at Russian medical institutions.


Learn more about the educational programmes, passing grades and the number of government-funded places in our "Catalogue of Educational Programmes".