Requirements for the Ph.D. in Astronomy include a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework and research, a written qualifying exam, a candidacy seminar, and a final oral defense of the dissertation.
Courses are selected from among nine core courses, and can be taken in any sequence, depending on when courses are offered. Courses include Observational Techniques, Exoplanets and Orbital Dynamics, the Interstellar Medium, Galactic Astronomy, Stellar Atmospheres, Stellar Interiors, Galactic Dynamics, the Structure and Evolution of Galaxies, and Cosmology.
Coursework toward a graduate minor is also required. Most doctoral candidates minor in either physics or scientific computing, although other minors are possible at the discretion of the department.
Students must pass a written qualifying exam usually taken at the end of the second year. The exam covers core course material plus general astronomy at the advanced undergraduate level.
The candidacy seminar is an oral presentation to the student’s research committee, usually addressing either a student’s dissertation proposal and/or a summary of past research.
The final oral defense of the dissertation presented to the student’s advisory committee marks the completion of a student’s graduate curriculum.