Programs by Campus



College of Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: astdept [at] indiana [dot] edu

Departmental URL:

(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



Degrees Offered

Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. The department also participates in the Ph.D. program in astrophysics.

Research Facilities

Members of the Department of Astronomy use the WIYN 3.5m and 0.9m telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, to carry out research in optical astronomy. The advanced-technology 3.5m telescope delivers superb image quality over a wide field and is also optimized for multiobject spectroscopy, including a high-spectral-resolution mode and high-spatial-resolution imaging in the optical and near-infrared. Indiana University currently holds a 25 percent share of the WIYN facility. The High-Energy Astrophysics Group carries out research with underground, spacecraft, and balloon-borne detectors that are developed within the department. Several instrument development labs and machine shops support the optical and high-energy research programs.

Research in the Department of Astronomy is supported by ex­cellent computational facilities. Students, faculty, and research staff have fast desktop machines with 10-Gbps network con­nectivity within the department and to the outside world. The department maintains several multi-Terabyte file servers and a number of high-performance computer platforms for simula­tions and data analysis. Indiana University operates BigRed 200, one of the fastest university-owned supercomputers in the world.  These com­putational research capabilities are supported by massive data processing and storage systems and a number of advanced visualization resources.

Special Departmental Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)

Admission Requirements

Good preparation for graduate work in astronomy or astrophysics requires the same training in physics and mathematics needed for a bachelor’s degree in physics, plus a familiarity with the subject matter of introductory astronomy or astrophysics courses, such as A221-A222 or A450-452. An undergraduate major in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or mathematics that has provided such a background is usually required for admission. Any necessary undergraduate courses that are taken to strengthen a student’s background will not receive graduate credit.

Master of Arts Degree

Course Requirements

A minimum of 30 credit hours, including any three astronomy graduate core courses (see below).


A thesis may be required, at the discretion of the department. Students for whom the thesis requirement is waived must still complete a significant project that demonstrates research proficiency.

Final Examination

An oral examination must be passed that covers topics in general astronomy at the A450-452 level, the core courses applied toward the degree, and the thesis research in Astronomy or Astrophysics.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Course Requirements

A total of 90 credit hours. Students are required to take six of the following core courses: A505, A515, A520, A530, A540, A550, A570, A575, and A580. Normally, these courses are offered at the rate of three courses per year, and they may be taken in any sequence. The remainder of the graduate program consists of elective courses, seminars on advanced topics, research, and dissertation.


Grades below B (3.0) in core courses may be counted toward degree requirements only at the discretion of the department.

Qualifying Examination

In order to advance to candidacy, a student must pass a written examination covering the core course material plus general astronomy at the A450-452 level. The examination may be taken no more than twice. The examination is usually offered once a year in late May/early June.

Candidacy Seminar

The candidacy seminar is an oral presentation to the research committee, usually consisting of a thesis proposal and/or a summary of past research activity. It must be completed within a year of passing the written qualifying examination (typically by the end of the third year of residence).

Minor Requirement

Doctoral candidates must complete a minor as part of the degree requirements for the Ph.D.  Doctoral candidates in astronomy may minor in Physics, Scientific Computing, Mathematics, or Chemistry. Other minors may be permitted at the discretion of the Graduate Advising Committee.

Final Examination

Oral defense of the dissertation.

Ph.D. Minor in Astronomy

Students from other departments who wish to minor in astron­omy must complete at least 6 credit hours of graduate courses in astronomy at the 500 level with an average GPA of B (3.0) or higher. The student should discuss proposed course work for the minor with an advisor from the Department of Astronomy, usually the Director of Graduate Studies. One astronomy course at the 400 level (listed below) may be substituted for one of the 500 level courses upon approval by the student’s astronomy advisor.

Academic Bulletins

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