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Course Requirements


Students are required to complete successfully the 5 "core" courses in astronomy: ISM & Star Formation (Astronomy 515), Stars & Accretion (545), Cosmology (541), Galaxies (540), and Instrumentation & Statistics (518). In addition, students are required to take another eight graded credits of non-core courses. Core courses are taken during the first two fall semesters. The student can fulfill the non-core requirement by choosing from a wide range of 3 credit elective and 1-2 credit seminars that are typically offered in the spring semesters and coordinated with the core courses offered the previous semester. Students can also satisfy the non-core requirement by taking courses offered by other departments, including Physics, Lunar and Planetary, Biology, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, and Optical Sciences. Courses below the 500 level are not acceptable for graduate credit.

By the end of the third semester, the student should have completed the core Ph.D. qualification requirement, which consists of five graduate astronomy core courses, with a grade of C or better in each course. The student's overall GPA must remain 3.0 or above to hold either a research or teaching assistantship. A GPA of 3.0 is also a graduation requirement for either a Masters or Ph.D. in Astronomy.

Core courses will always be taken for letter grades by Astronomy students, but may be taken for Pass/Fail credit, with instructor approval, by students from other departments. Electives and seminars may be taken for Pass/Fail credit, subject to the limitation of no more than two Pass/Fail courses per semester and the overall constraint of having taken a sufficient number of credits in letter-graded courses.

By the end of the fifth semester, students should have taken 16 units of graded core courses, 8-9 units of graded elective/seminars, and 20-21 units of Independent Research (Astronomy 900) and/or other elective/seminars for a total of 45 units. By the end of their graduate career, students should have taken an additional 18 units of dissertation credits (Astronomy 920) for a total of 63 units.


Typical Graduate Plan

Fall Semester Spring Semester

First or Second Year

ASTR 515 (4 units): Interstellar Medium & Star Formation

Elective (3 units) and/or Seminar (2)

ASTR 545 (4 units): Stars & Accretion

Elective (3 units) and/or Seminar (2)

ASTR 501 (1 unit): Computational Tools For Astronomical Research (optional)

ASTR 900 (at least 4 units): Research

ASTR 900 (at least 4 units): Research


Second or First Year

ASTR 540 (2 units): Structure & Dynamics of Galaxies

Elective (3 units) and/or Seminar (2)

ASTR 541 (3 units): Cosmology

Elective (3 units) and/or Seminar (2)

ASTR 518 (3 units): Instrumentation & Statistics

ASTR 900 (at least 4 units:) Research

ASTR 900 (at least 4 units): Research


Third Year

ASTR 920: Dissertation

ASTR 920: Dissertation

Fourth Year

ASTR 920: Dissertation

ASTR 920: Dissertation

Example Electives and Seminars

ASTR 503. Physics of the Solar System (3 units)

ASTR 507. Astrobiology (3)

ASTR 513. Data Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy (2)

ASTR 516. Modern Astronomical Optics (3)

ASTR 520. Seminar on Advanced Extragalactic Astronomy (2)

ASTR 553. Solar System Dynamics (3)

ASTR 560. Seminar with a Focus on Stellar Evolution from an Observational Perspective (2)

ASTR 569. Introduction to General Relativity (3)

ASTR 571. General Relativity and Cosmology (3)

ASTR 582. Seminar on High Energy Astrophysics (2)

ASTR 585. Radio Astronomy (3)

ASTR 588. Astrochemistry (3)

ASTR 589. Topics in Theoretical Astrophysics (3)

ASTR 596B. Methods in Computational Astrophysics (3)

ASTR 5xx. Seminar on Active Galactic Nuclei (2)

ASTR 5xx. Seminar on Star and Planet Formation (2)

PTYS 537. The Physics of the Sun (3)

PTYS 558. Plasma Physics with Astrophysical and Solar System Applications (3)

as well as other related courses in Planetary Sciences, Optics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Sciences.