Graduate Program – Admission


Paul Withers, Assistant Professor, Director of Graduate Admissions

Paul Withers, Director of Graduate Admissions

Welcome to the graduate program of the Astronomy Department at Boston University. We have a thriving program with about 20 faculty and 35 PhD students. Our students, professors and researchers are at the forefront of a variety of research areas that include space physics, observational and theoretical astrophysics, planetary science, instrumentation, and solar physics. The university recently entered a new partnership with Lowell Observatory which ensures that the Astronomy Department has guaranteed time on the 4.3m Discovery Channel Telescope. You can learn much more about the specific projects/programs that are currently being executed by our faculty and students by browsing around our website.

BU is located in the heart of Boston (on the shores of the Charles River), an exciting urban area where students have access to a variety of cultural, gastronomical, and athletic events outside the academic arena. Our department also provides a number of social events throughout the year including (but not limited to) weekly, informal discussions with our seminar speakers at the BU Pub, weekly pizza after journal club, and musical events Unplugged and The Soiree, which feature performances by our faculty, students, and staff.

Our graduate applications are processed through the Boston University Graduate School ( and are due on 15 December. University policy is that all students accepted into our PhD programs are guaranteed five years of financial support.

If you have any questions about our program, or specific inquiries regarding the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact me via phone (617-353-1531) or email ( Our departmental brochure also provides a lot of useful information.

Paul Withers
Assistant Professor of Astronomy
Director of Graduate Admissions

Application Information

Applicants to the graduate program should have the strong physics background implied by a Bachelor’s degree in either physics or astronomy. Undergraduate credits in physics should include courses in mechanics, electromagnetism, atomic and nuclear physics, optics, and thermodynamics/statistical mechanics. Mathematics through differential equations and a course in introductory astronomy and/or astrophysics are highly recommended. Applicants should have a cumulative GPA equivalent to B or higher.

To be considered for admission it is necessary to submit the following:

  • Application for admission and application fee
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Official general GRE scores – institution code: 3087
  • Official GRE physics subject test scores – institution code: 3087
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume/CV

The minimum TOEFL score requirement is 550 (paper-based test). The TOEFL minimum requirements for the Internet Based Test (IBT):

• Writing: 22
• Speaking: 23
• Reading: 21
• Listening: 18

The application deadline is December 15.

If you have any questions, please contact the Astronomy Department’s Director of Graduate Admissions, Prof. Paul Withers.

Further information on graduate programs and financial aid may be obtained at:; or, by contacting the Graduate Admissions Committee, Astronomy Department, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, (617) 353-2625.

Please also see the Prospective Graduate Student Brochure: Graduate Student Brochure.