MA in Astronomy
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.
- Demonstrate graduate-level knowledge of astronomy and physics, including the following topics: fundamental physics and astrophysics; gravitation, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics appropriate to astronomy; and the dynamical behavior of space and astrophysical plasmas.
- Demonstrate graduate-level knowledge of observational techniques used to study astronomical and space phenomena.
- Perform directed research within that discipline.
- Present directed research to a committee of faculty members and to a scientific audience.
The MA in Astronomy requires completion of eight 4-credit graduate courses (32 credits) in astronomy with a grade of B– or higher. At least five of these must be astronomy courses numbered 700–799.
There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.
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 “master’s pass” or a “PhD pass” will meet the master’s comprehensive examination requirement.
- Alternatively, a student wishing to leave with an MA may have a Master’s 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.
A 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 or analyzing previously existing data. The thesis must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to present the results of their 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. The committee must approve a prospectus of the thesis at least three months before the oral examination.