Progress to PhD

The focus of your work in the PhD program at Ohio State should be on research. At the start of your first year, you identify a first-year project and work with your advisor to bring that paper to completion. The goal is to submit a first-author paper during the summer after your first academic year, although in some cases the first-year project extends throughout the second year, depending on the scope and depth of your project.

Below, we provide a sample "typical" timeline for the PhD program, which reflects the fact that virtually all of our students finish in 5 or 6 years.

Throughout your time at Ohio State, we encourage you to come to Astronomy Morning Coffee every workday. Every semester, pre-Candidacy students should register for "Seminar," which includes Colloquium and Journal Club. All students are strongly encouraged to attend these. You should also actively seek out Colloquium and CCAPP visitors that are connected to your research and meet with them.

Students should submit "checklists" (using our checklist template) to the Graduate Chair every year with a summary of their activities.

Read and understand general information on courses and course registration.

Year 1:

Identify a first-year project and advisor. Take the required core courses, plus Order-of-Magnitude. Attend Coffee, Colloquium, Journal Club, and relevant CCAPP seminars. Give a summer Klondike Colloquium. Finish your first-year project.

Year 2:

Begin contributing regularly at Coffee. Send email to coffee@astronomy and volunteer to discuss a given paper.

Identify a second-year project and advisor. This may or may not be in the same research area as your first-year project. Take the second round of required core courses, plus Order-of-Magnitude. Attend Coffee, Colloquium, Journal Club, and relevant CCAPP seminars. Give a summer Klondike Colloquium. Finish first- and/or second-year project(s).

Identify your Candidacy Exam committee and topic. Complete your Candidacy exam during the summer after your second year.

Year 3:

Begin or continue to regularly contribute to Coffee.  Lead Coffee at least once (read the guidelines before doing this the first time).

Identify your PhD research topic and advisor. The topic and advisor may or may not be the same as for your first- or second-year projects. Begin working on your dissertation research and papers. Think about the fact that you will need 3 letters of recommendation by the start of your 5th or 6th years. Attend a conference.

You should complete your Dissertation Proposal.

By the end of this year start thinking about the fact that you will need 3 letters of recommendation when applying for postdoctoral positions.

Year 4:

Continue with your dissertation work. Attend a conference. Give a seminar at another institution.

Aspire to be the "go-to" person at Coffee in the subfield of astronomy/astrophysics that is the topic of your PhD research.

Years 5 and 6:

Continue regularly participating in Coffee. Run Coffee several times per year.

If you plan to graduate at the end of this year, you should begin working on your postdoctoral applications in August or early September. These include a statement of current and past research, a research proposal, a curriculum vitae, and a cover letter. Some applications ask for a combined statement of current, past, and planned research, whereas others ask for separate statements. Some have page limits of 1 page. Others, 3 pages. You should have identified at least 3 reference letter writers and have asked them if they would be willing to write letters for you.

Summer of your 5th or 6th year: Defend your PhD dissertation.
 

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