Astronomy Master's Degree Programs

Sep 10, 2019

If you have a deep passion for outer space, a master's degree in astronomy could turn your love into a career. Find out what you could study in a master's program in astronomy, and how to apply to such a program.

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Typically, you can find a Master of Science in Astronomy when searching for a master's-level program. In some cases, the major in astronomy may be paired with astrophysics, which will still award a Master of Science as a degree. You could also earn a Master of Science on the way to a doctoral degree, but there are offerings out there for terminal master's degrees as well.

Courses Offered in Astronomy Master's Degree Programs

Studying astronomy at the master's level can introduce you to higher levels of research and in-depth explorations of the physical aspects of the universe. When you are nearly complete, you might complete a final capstone project or a thesis, depending on your track choice for the graduate program.

Cosmology

This course examines the science of the universe and its geometric aspects. You could learn about how the universe came to exist from a scientific perspective, the concept of dark matter, and how galaxies evolve over time. You might also examine morphology and how galactic anomalies are interpreted.

Research Methods

Graduate school involves plenty of research, and this course could show you how to properly examine scholarly sources to use in your own material. Different paradigms and sources can contribute to your own papers, which you can write throughout your degree program and eventually present at conferences or in journals.

Binary Stars

You could focus on stars and their binary nature in this class, which could mention observational techniques for different types of stars that appear in space. Specific examples might include spectroscopic or eclipsing stars. As you work through the course, you might examine the different properties of stars, such as luminosity, radius, and temperature.

Techniques in Astronomy

Applications and instruments used in astronomy could be covered in this course. You might learn how to manipulate and use a number of different tools, including telescopes, spectroscopes, and photon detectors. You might also cover the formulas used during error analysis and CCD imaging. During this course, you could have the opportunity to work inside an observatory or an imaging facility.

Electrodynamics

In this course, you could study the electrodynamics of plasma. Specific emphasis could cover transport theory or particle diffusion. Discharges from microwave and radio frequencies may also appear in your course content. In some classes, you may study energy absorption through electromagnetic potential energy.

Thesis

Depending on your research track, you may be required to write a thesis as part of your degree. You will form a committee and register for a thesis course while finding your material and presenting a proposal to your advisors. You can combine material from your university's library resources with scholarly journal articles and research data from the astronomy community that contributes to your own thesis. At the end of your program, you may have to defend your thesis in front of your committee.

Admissions Requirements for Astronomy Master's Degree Programs

Before gaining admission into a master's program for astronomy, you will need a bachelor's degree. It may help to have previously studied astronomy and related sciences, but a degree in the same field is not entirely necessary. The school where you apply might ask for a personal and/or academic statement, which should include information about your career and research aspirations, along with your reasons for applying to their specific program. Check with the university to see which tests are required for score submission; for example, some schools might ask for GRE General scores, but not require any subject exams. You can submit your transcripts directly from any previously attended schools to the admissions department where you apply.

Master's degrees in astronomy involve plenty of research and discussion about the creation of the universe. You can spend some time in observatories and labs while analyzing different stars and galaxies.

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