The primary goal of the graduate program of the Department of Astronomy is to produce professional astronomers who are well prepared for research and teaching careers. Paramount is the development of the ability to plan, execute, and publish original research in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Formal coursework is concentrated in the first two years of the program. Students are also expected to begin working on directed research projects as early as possible. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon completing their required courses and successfully passing the Candidacy Exam, which is normally taken at the end of the second year.
Subsequently, students spend most of their time on research under the direction of one or more faculty advisors. While carrying out dissertation research, students participate in seminars, Colloquia, Astro Coffee, and other aspects of the intellectual life of the Department. The Ph.D. is awarded upon completion and approval by the student's faculty committee of a Ph.D. Dissertation based on original research, and successful defense of the dissertation in an oral examination. It is normally expected that students will complete all requirements for the Ph.D. within five to six years of entering the program.
Although our baseline goal is to prepare our students for a research career in astronomy and astrophysics, we also provide resources and career information and planning for students interested in more teaching-oriented or outreach-oriented positions, those interested in going into public policy, government labs, the tech/data workforce, or other career trajectories.