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Masters Degrees in Astronomy, USA

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There has never been a more exciting time to study the universe beyond the confines of the Earth. A new generation of advanced ground-based and space-borne telescopes and enormous increases in computing power are enabling a golden age of astrophysics. Read more

Program overview

There has never been a more exciting time to study the universe beyond the confines of the Earth. A new generation of advanced ground-based and space-borne telescopes and enormous increases in computing power are enabling a golden age of astrophysics. The MS program in astrophysical sciences and technology focuses on the underlying physics of phenomena beyond the Earth, and on the development of the technologies, instruments, data analysis, and modeling techniques that will enable the next major strides in the field. The program's multidisciplinary emphasis sets it apart from conventional astrophysics graduate programs at traditional research universities.

Plan of study

The MS program comprises a minimum of 32 credit hours of study. The curriculum consists of four core courses, two to four elective courses, two semesters of graduate seminar, and a research project culminating in a thesis.

Master's thesis

Typically following the first year, but sometimes initiated during the first year for well-prepared students, candidates begin a research project under the guidance of a faculty research adviser. A thesis committee is appointed by the program director and consists of the student's adviser and at least two additional members, one of whom must be a faculty member in the astrophysical sciences and technology program. The final examination of the thesis consists of a public oral presentation by the student, followed by questions from the audience. The thesis committee privately question the candidate following the presentation. The committee caucuses immediately following the examination and thereafter notifies the candidate and the program director of the results.

Curriculum

Astrophysical sciences and technology, MS degree, typical course sequence:
First Year
-Astronomical Observational Techniques and Instrumentation
-Astrophysical Dynamics
-Introduction to Relativity and Gravitation
-Graduate Seminar I, II
-Radiative Processes for Astrophysical Sciences
Choose one of the following:
-Mathematical Methods for the Astrophysical Sciences
-Statistical Methods for Astrophysics
-Stellar Structure and Atmospheres
Second Year
-Galactic Astrophysics
-Research and Thesis
-Extragalactic Astrophysics

See website for more details.

Other admission requirements

-Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2/4.0 in course work in mathematical, science, engineering, or computer subject areas.
-Submit official transcripts (in English) for all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
-Submit two letters of recommendation.
-Submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and complete a graduate application.
-International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 550 (paper-based) or 79 (Internet-based) is required. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores will be accepted in place of the TOEFL exam. Minimum scores will vary; however, the absolute minimum score required for unconditional acceptance is 6.5. For additional information about the IELTS, please visit http://www.ielts.org.
-For candidates lacking adequate academic preparation or for those who hold a bachelor's degree in an area other than those listed above, bridge and foundation course work may be necessary prior to full admission.

Additional information

MS to Ph.D. transfer:
Students making good progress in their course work and research project may be permitted, by program approval, to attempt the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Upon successfully passing the exam, students may choose to transfer to the Ph.D. program rather than pursue a terminal master of science degree. This is contingent on the availability of an adviser and research funding.

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