Courses

Candidates for a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics should complete one core course in astronomy, one course in another scientific discipline, at least five electives in astronomy, and participate every year in the Journal Club. Details follow.

Astronomy Core Course (1)

All students should complete and obtain a satisfactory grade (A or B) in:

  • Astronomy 200: Radiative Astrophysics

Non-Astronomy Course (1)

In years past the department required students to complete a course in Physics.  That specific requirement is no longer required but  each student must still complete a 200-level course of equivalent intellectual substance from another science department.   While knowledge of physics remains very important in astrophysics and students might consider one the courses listed at the link below, many students are now looking to relevant courses in engineering, earth and planetary sciences, chemistry, biology or similar departments to meet this requirement. Students are expected to obtain a satisfactory grade (A or B) in this course as well.

All students must send an email to the Director of Graduate Study for permission to register for this particular required course allowing for ample time for you to complete enrollment by the due date.  In your email, please state briefly the rationale for requesting a particular course and indicate that your Advisor has approved this choice.

Astronomy Electives (5)

Students are expected to obtain a satisfactory grade (A or B) in at least five of the following graduate level electives offered by the Astronomy department:

  • Astronomy 151: Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
  • Astronomy 189: Exoplanet Systems
  • Astronomy 193: Noise and Data Analysis in Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 201a: Stellar Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 202a: Galaxies and Dynamics
  • Astronomy 202b: Cosmology
  • Astronomy 218: Radio Astronomy
  • Astronomy 219: High Energy Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 231: Optics for Astronomers
  • Astronomy 251: Quantum Mechanics for Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 253: Plasma Astrophysics
Practical Elective (Fifth elective option)

As a student discovers those areas of interest that will turn into a dissertation, graduate level course work in related disciplines may be useful.  Students can consider practical 200-level courses in other departments, for example, Computer Science,  Applied Math, Statistics, or other disciplines that would support the areas of research that they are pursuing.   In order to receive credit for this elective your Advisor must send an email to Robb or Peg in the department office approving your choice of a course towards this elective.  Students can, of course, simply meet the elective requirements (5) through Astronomy department courses alone.

Journal Club

    Astronomy 301hf, Journal Club, meets weekly. This course is intended as an opportunity for substantive discussion, as a venue for students to find out about research activities, and as a forum to foster interaction between students and faculty. Students must register for the course every year, and will be expected to make one presentation each year except in their first and last years.

    More Information on Courses

    For more information on individual courses, see the following areas of the Courses of Instruction:

    • Astronomy
    • Physics
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences

    Study Plans

    At the beginning of the fall semester, first and second year student are expected to discuss their proposed study and research schedule with their advisor and to submit a Study Plan for review by the Committee on Academic Studies. First year students should make an appointment to go over their Study Plan with their advisor.  Study Plan forms are available here.   Ideal timelines are just that.  But in general the CAS would like course requirements to be completed at the end of year 2 and research exams by the beginning of year 3.  Completing your teaching by the end of year 3 is preferred.

    First-Year Study Plan

    This Study Plan summarizes the course requirements and lists when individual courses are offered as well as providing useful background on your undergraduate training.   Advisors must sign off on this plan and it is due in the Department office by October 1.

    Second-year Study Plan

    This Study Plan helps update the CAS on your progress to date and make certain that your research is well under way.  Advisors must sign off on this document which is due in the Department office by October 1.