Information for Prospective Students

The Ohio State Department of Astronomy offers a superb Ph.D. program for students interested in optical/infrared observational astrophysics and theoretical astrophysics. We place a strong emphasis on research – students begin work on research projects as soon as they arrive, and we encourage them to work with several different research advisors during the course of their graduate education. Our graduating students typically author or co-author 8-15 refereed journal articles by the time they complete their PhDs, in addition to writing numerous conference papers and abstracts. Our 1st- and 2nd-year students are already active researchers: publishing papers, attending conferences, giving talks, going on observing runs, and working in the instrument lab. This early initiation into the astronomical research community pays off when students graduate and embark upon their careers.

Our recent PhD recipients have gone on to postdoctoral positions at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Carnegie Observatories, the Institute for Advanced Study, UC Santa Cruz, the Kavli Institute at the University of Chicago, Space Telescope Science Institute, UCLA, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, University of Leiden, Brera Observatory in Italy, Observatoire de Paris, SUNY Stony Brook, Princeton, and Pierce College. A number of our recent graduates have been awarded many of the most prestigious postdoctoral fellowships in Astronomy, including several Hubble and Carnegie Fellowships, one of the first Sagan Fellowships, and the Princeton-Catolica, Menzel, and Clay Fellowships.

About the Astronomy Department

Observational research interests of the Ohio State faculty include

  • Extrasolar Planets
  • Galactic and Extragalactic Star Formation
  • Stellar Populations
  • Chemical Evolution
  • Supernovae and Compact Objects
  • The Interstellar Medium
  • The Galactic Center
  • Galactic Structure
  • Gravitational Microlensing
  • Structure and Evolution of Galaxies
  • Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars.

Theoretical research interests include

  • Primordial and stellar nucleosynthesis
  • Stellar structure and evolution
  • Supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and compact objects
  • Galactic structure
  • Dark matter
  • Galaxy dynamics
  • Active galactic nuclei
  • Galaxy formation
  • The intergalactic medium
  • Large scale structure
  • Cosmology
  • Astroparticle Physics
  • Atomic physics

Observing and Computational Facilities

On many topics, a student has a choice of several possible research advisors, and work in more than one area before (and after!) settling on a dissertation topic.  Students typically publish one or two papers, many first-author, before completing their second year.

Interested students also have the opportunity to work on advanced astronomical instrumentation through the department's instrumentation lab, a group of nine research staff with expertise in optics, detectors, electronics, mechanical design, and software engineering. This group works closely with the observational faculty and builds optical and infrared instruments for a variety of telescopes.

Astronomy is a close-knit department with a lively atmosphere and a great deal of daily contact between students and faculty. Faculty contact comes naturally through research supervision and classes, but also through Daily Astronomy Coffee, weekly journal clubs and colloquia, student-organized reading groups, and many informal events. Students at Ohio State have more opportunity to learn from close interaction with faculty than they would in virtually any other astronomy program.

Visiting the Department

Students receiving an offer of admission to our graduate program will be invited to visit our department during the spring.

Prior to applying to our graduate program, we welcome visits to our department but respectfully request that you make an appointment first to ensure availability. We would prefer to avoid visits during December and January as these months are among the busiest for the Graduate Admissions Committee, and many of our faculty and students will be away for the holidays. Please contact us directly about scheduling a self-guided visit by emailing gradchair@astronomy.ohio-state.edu, and we will do our best to accommodate all requests.

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