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College of Arts and Sciences


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(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.)



Degree Offered
Doctor of Philosophy

The astrophysics program is administered jointly by the Depart­ment of Astronomy and the Department of Physics through the interdepartmental committee named. Interested students must first gain admission to one of these departments and then petition the committee for entrance into the program after establishing departmental residency. Students may qualify for a master’s degree in astronomy or physics while in this pro­gram. Doctoral dissertations in astrophysics may be directed by any qualified member of the Department of Astronomy or Physics graduate faculty.

Special Program Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)

Admission Requirements

A student should have the combined admission requirements of doctoral students in astronomy and physics; i.e., a thor­ough undergraduate training in physics and mathematics plus familiarity with general astronomy. Deficiencies must be removed early, usually without graduate credit.

Course Requirements

In addition to the dissertation, a total of 90 credit hours are required, including four courses or their equivalents from the following Physics courses: Physics P506, P507, P511, P512, P521, P556, P609, P630 (G630) and P637; and four courses or their equivalents from the following Astronomy courses: Astronomy A505, A515, A520, A530, A540, A550, A570, A575, and A580. One additional physics, astronomy core course or astrophysics course is also required. Astrophysics courses in the Bulletin listings for the Astrophysics program can be counted as the additional course if offered. Physics or astronomy or astrophysics courses not in the above list may be approved by the Astrophysics Committee upon petition by the student.


Astrophysics students are subject to the advising procedures of their resident departments prior to forming their Research Committee. Once the Research Committee is formed, the dissertation director and Research Committee will be responsible for advising the student.

Research Committee

Students should convene a Research Committee within one year of passing all components of the Qualifying Examination. The Research Committee must consist of at least four graduate faculty members. At least one of these members must be from Astronomy and at least one must be from Physics.

Candidacy Seminar

The candidacy seminar is an oral presentation to the Research Committee, usually consisting of a dissertation proposal and/or a summary of past research activity. It must be completed within one year of passing the Qualifying Examination.


By meeting the course requirements for this degree, a student from the Department of Astronomy will automatically fulfill the requirements for a minor in physics, and a student from the De­partment of Physics will automatically fulfill the requirements for a minor in astronomy.

Foreign Language/Research-Skill Requirement

A student in the astrophysics program must meet the foreign language/research-skill requirements (if any) of the depart­ment of residence.


Grades below B (3.0) in astronomy and physics courses may be counted toward degree requirements only with the consent of the astrophysics committee.

Qualifying Examination

There are three ways a student can pass the astrophysics qualifying examination:

  1. Pass the full Physics qualifying exam.
  2. Pass the full Astronomy qualifying exam.
  3. Pass designated parts of the qualifying examinations of both departments – specifically, half of the physics qualifying examination; for the physics qualifier, a student must choose 3 subject areas amongst classical mechanics, first semester of electromagnetism, first semester of quantum mechanics, and statistical physics; for the astronomy qualifier, the student is required to answer one of two general astronomy questions and 4 of the remaining 8 questions.

The examination requirements must be satisfied by the end of the student’s sixth semester in residence. The department of residence may also specify its own deadline for passage of the examination it administers. To remain in the Astrophysics program, a student must pass the qualifying examination within two attempts.

Final Examination

Oral defense of the dissertation.

Academic Bulletins

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