The department offers a graduate program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in astronomy. Current research provides opportunities in optical observational astronomy as well as computational theory. Prospective graduate students must submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination including the advanced physics test. Further information on the department's graduate programs, and details concerning financial aid, are available through the departmental office.
Graduate applications in astronomy are normally due by January 15 for admission in the following fall; however, under special circumstances late applications will be considered.
If you have questions about the Astronomy graduate program, contact Professor Heather Morrison at email@example.com.
The goal of the graduate program in the CWRU Department of Astronomy is to educate and train the next generation of professional astronomers. As professional astronomers work in a variety of settings – universities, research labs, observatories, museums, and planetariums – our program offers a wide range of research and educational opportunities for students pursuing their doctoral degree.
Graduate research opportunities are available in both observational and theoretical astrophysics, covering fields of galaxy formation and evolution, large scale structure and cosmology, and stellar abundances and chemical evolution. CWRU Astronomy is the sole owner/operator of the Burrell Schmidt telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, giving graduate students opportunities for significant observing time and instrumentation research as well. We are also members of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey consortium, which provides further opportunities for thesis research involving SDSS data.
For admission into the Ph.D. program, a bachelors degree in astronomy, physics, or a related technical field is required. Preparation in upper level undergraduate courses in classic mechanics, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and electricity and magnetism is expected; preparation in astrophysics courses is helpful but not required. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is also expected, and applicants must also submit scores for the GRE general and physics subject exams.
Our research program meets state and regional needs by training students in technical research skills, fostering an active scientific research community, and participating in public outreach and educational activities. Our students assist with all these activities by presenting their research at a variety of technical and public venues and acting as teaching assistants for our undergraduate education programs. Of particular importance is our ability to give students hands-on technical training in research observatory science, an opportunity that is fast-dwindling in this age of remotely-managed observatories.
Upon graduation, our students generally take national or international research postdoctoral positions at universities or research facilities. Five years after degree, our graduates are competitive for permanent positions at universities and research labs.
As per the requirements of the Ohio Board of Regents, our Ph.D. program was externally reviewed in 2011/12; the next scheduled review is in 2018/19. These programmatic goals and objectives were last revised in December 2012.
We strongly encourage our graduate students to get
involved with astronomical research as soon as
possible, typically in their first semester in the
program. We offer opportunities for both
observational and theoretical projects in galaxy
evolution, stellar populations, stellar physics,
cosmology, and galactic dynamics. Students have
access to our wide-field Schmidt telescope at Kitt
Peak, Arizona, early access to data from the Sloan
Digital Sky Survey, and access to CWRU's high speed
cluster. Examples of
possible projects for incoming graduate students
can be found here.
Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include coursework, a Ph.D. qualifying examination, and a written doctoral thesis.
In consultation with the departmental faculty, students build an individualized curriculum of courses in Astronomy and other related fields. The University requires a total of 36 hours of course work for students entering with a bachelors degree, or 18 hours of coursework for students entering with a masters degree. These requirements can be met by a variety of lecture courses and supervised research.
Required courses for the degree consist of:
- ASTR 406 Astronomical Techniques
- ASTR 411 Stellar Physics
- ASTR 423 The Local Universe
- ASTR 428 Cosmology and the Structure of the Universe
These required courses may be waived if a student has earned a B or better in equivalent coursework elsewhere).
Aside from the required courses, students may choose from a variety of elective courses, depending on their specific interests Possibilities include:
- ASTR 497 Special Topics in Astronomy
- PHYS 413 Classical and Statistical Mechanics I
- PHYS 414 Classical and Statistical Mechanics II
- PHYS 423 Classical Electromagnetism
- PHYS 451 Empirical Foundations of the Standard Model
- PHYS 465 General Relativity
- PHYS 481 Quantum Mechanics I
- STAT 425 Data Analysis and Linear Models
- STAT 427 Statistical Computing
Ph.D. Qualifying Exam
At the end of their second year, students take a combined written and oral qualifying exam based on the material in the required Astronomy coursework. Admission to PhD candidacy is contingent on the student passing this qualifying exam.
The Doctoral Thesis
Students must complete a doctoral thesis consisting of original research in Astronomy, supervised by a faculty member. This thesis will be reviewed by the student's thesis committee; award of the Ph.D. is contingent on the approval of the thesis by the thesis committee.
ASTR 406. Astronomical Techniques
(3). Emphasis will be on acquisition of
direct imaging and/or spectroscopic data and its
subsequent reduction. Principles of optics applied to
astronomical telescopes and instrumentation. Modern
detector technology. Computational techniques will
also be explored through projects emphasizing modeling
of data, dynamical simulations of star clusters
emphasizing modeling of data, dynamical simulations of
star clusters and galaxies, or astronomical database
ASTR 411. Stellar Physics (3). Radiative transfer, atomic and molecular opacities, and the observable properties of stars. Stellar interiors, nuclear processes, and energy generation. The evolution of stars of varying mass and production of the elements within supernovae explosions.
ASTR 423. The Local Universe (3). The Milky Way Galaxy. Galaxy populations. Quantitative structure and dynamics of galaxies. The interstellar media of galaxies. Dark matter and stellar populations. The Local Group and Virgo cluster.
ASTR 428. Cosmology and the Structure of the Universe (3). Distances to galaxies. The content of the distant universe. Large scale structure and galaxy clusters. Physical cosmology. Structure and galaxy formation and evolution. Testing cosmological models.
ASTR 497. Special Topics in Astronomy (1-3). Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
ASTR 601. Research (credit as arranged).
ASTR 701. Dissertation (Ph.D.) (credit as arranged).
ASTR 702. Dissertation (Ph.D.) (credit as arranged).