M.A. in Astronomy

Please note the GRS pages are the official pages regarding degree requirements:

Please Note: Students admitted to the PhD program may opt for a master’s degree en route to the PhD if they satisfy the appropriate requirements, but initially students may not apply for a master’s degree alone.

The MA requires completion of a total of eight graduate courses in astronomy and physics with a grade of B– or higher. At least five of these must be astronomy courses numbered 700–799.

The candidate must pass an oral Comprehensive examination by one of three means. For a student who writes a master’s thesis, describing a research project carried out by the student and directed by a faculty member, the oral exam takes place as part of the thesis defense. For students taking the PhD Oral Qualifying Examination, achieving either a “masters pass” or a “PhD pass” will meet the masters Comprehensive examination requirement. Alternatively, a student wishing to leave with an MA may have a Masters Oral Comprehensive Examination committee, consisting of three Astronomy faculty members, to query the student regarding their understanding of graduate level physics, astrophysics, and space physics to ascertain mastery of these topics.

The master’s thesis must give evidence of the candidate’s ability to understand, critically evaluate, and competently carry forward a scientific investigation. This is achieved by advancing an experimental technique, by extending the application of a physical theory, or by collecting new scientifically relevant data. A thesis is required to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to present the results of his or her work in a logical and coherent manner. The thesis is judged in an oral examination administered by a committee of three faculty members, including the student’s advisor. A prospectus of the thesis must be approved by the committee at least three months prior to the oral examination.