Candidates for a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics should complete one core course in astronomy, at least five electives from a list designated by the department, and one course in another scientific discipline. Details follow.

1. Each student must receive a satisfactory grade (A or B) or pass an oral examination in one core course: Astronomy 200 (Radiative Astrophysics)

2. Each student must receive a satisfactory grade in at least five electives chosen from the list below:  

  • Astronomy 201: Astrophysical Fluids & Plasmas
  • Astronomy 202a: Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology I
  • Astronomy 202b: Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology II
  • Astronomy 203: Interstellar Medium & Star Formation
  • Astronomy 204: Stellar Astrophysics
  • Astronomy 209: Exoplanet Systems
  • Astronomy 214: Observational Astronomy (under development)
  • Physics 210: General Relativity*
  • Data Analysis (Physics 201 or Applied Math 207 but not both)

3. Each student is expected to complete for credit one 200-level course outside the department. Known as the Practical Elective, this course ideally would pertain to a student’s research field of interest or assist the student in furthering research skills in such areas as data analysis, engineering, geology, chemistry or biology.  [Note: the three non-Astronomy courses listed as electives above cannot be used to meet this requirement.]  Your advisor must approve your choice of the Practical Elective.

4. The Graduate School requires 32 units of "residency" for the PhD degree.  Students are allowed 4 units of Astronomy 300 to make up this total. 

*Note from the instructor for Physics 210:  Students interested in taking this course should have a very strong background in vector calculus, linear algebra, analytical mechanics, and electromagnetism and be able to devote a substantial amount of time to problem sets.

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.  Please note that the Practical Elective requires advisor sign-off which is accomplished most easily via the Study Plan.

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.