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Degree Requirements

PhD Program:

Our PhD program is generally 5 to 6 years. The first two years include research and classes. The remainder is devoted to thesis research.

Requirements include:

  • Seven (7) core courses in astronomy (21 credits) plus one approved cognate course from another Natural Science Department (3 credits) - Years 1 or 2
  • Precandidate Research Projects - Years 1 and 2 
  • Doctoral Preliminary Oral Examination - End of Year 2
  • Dissertation and Oral Defense - Years 3-5/6

Core Courses:

Astronomy 501: Modern Astronomical Techniques

Astronomy 530: Stellar Astrophysics I

Astronomy 531: Stellar Astrophysics II

Astronomy 532: The High Energy Universe

Astronomy 533: The Structure and Content of Galaxies

Astronomy 534: The Extragalactic Universe

Astronomy 535: Astrophysics of the Interstellar Medium

Students must also take one additional cognate course. This course must be approved by the Astronomy Graduate Chair. If a suitable graduate-level course was taken at another institution no more than two years prior to admission, the cognate requirement can be fulfilled with this course with the approval of the Astronomy Graduate Chair and the providing of an official transcript to Rackham.

All students must complete the RCRS requirement (Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship training) by taking the one credit UC 415 course prior to advancing to candidacy.

Advancing to Candidacy:

Advancement to candidacy requires having a research advisor, fulfilling the written research requirement (generally satisfied by submitting a first-authored paper started during your PhD studies), having a B or above in Astronomy classes, and passing an oral candidacy exam that focuses on a student’s research project and the big ideas behind it. The written research requirements and oral exam are generally at the end of the Winter semester, Year 2. Students who have completed the course work (core+cognate classes) and are in good academic standing are eligible for a master's degree.