Colleges Offering a PhD in Astrophysics: Schools & Programs

Jun 03, 2019

This guide will assist students who are interested in a doctoral degree in astrophysics. Learn about the degree programs offered at five schools across the country.

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The field of astrophysics focuses on how bodies in space are formed. Many colleges offer astrophysics training through PhD programs in astrophysics and/or astronomy. Students enrolled in these doctoral programs will receive training in statistics, stellar systems, and cosmology, among other topics.

School Comparison

This table highlights the locations and average graduate tuition costs for the five profiled schools.

Institution Location Average Graduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*
Princeton University Princeton, NJ $51,250
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA $14,131 (in-state) / $29,233 (out-of-state)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI $18,132 (in-state) / $35,628 (out-of-state)
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $52,233
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ $13,044 (in-state) / $33,393 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

Overview of Colleges with PhDs in Astrophysics

Princeton University

Students can complete a PhD in Astronomy in five years at Princeton University. The program emphasizes research training in astrophysics and physics. Students will complete five courses as well as engage in several research projects in the first two years of study. One of these projects must become published in order to qualify for doctoral candidacy, which is the last three years of the program. Prospective students should submit an online application and supporting documentation such as transcripts, a personal statement, and three recommendation letters.

University of California - Berkeley

The University of California at Berkeley's PhD program in astrophysics is suitable for students with a core background in physics and astronomy. This is a research-oriented program that focuses on areas such as stellar systems, cosmology, and theoretical astrophysics. Full-time students should complete their studies in six years. The university requires students to hold a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants will need to provide materials like transcripts and three recommendation letters.

Michigan State University

Students enrolled in Michigan State University's PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics will take courses in mechanics, electrodynamics, and stellar structure. They must earn at least a 3.375 overall GPA on core classes and complete an oral defense of their dissertation. Students must also serve as a teaching assistant for one semester. Potential students will need to complete an online application, a personal statement, and an academic statement.

California Institute of Technology

The doctoral astronomy program at the California Institute of Technology is designed to provide students in all the areas of modern astrophysics. Classes taken during the first year of study include topics like high-energy astrophysics and galaxy development. Students must pass a qualifying test at the beginning of their second year. They will also serve as teaching assistants in their second year. Research takes place the final years, and on average, students graduate from the program within five-and-a-half years. Applicants will need a bachelor's degree and must provide admissions materials such as three letters of recommendation, a resume, transcripts, and a statement of purpose.

University of Arizona

As part of the University of Arizona's PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics, students will complete core credits in the first two years of the program. Core classes include how stars develop, cosmology, and statistics. Elective courses range from learning about data mining processes to how planets are formed. Students will complete 45 credits in order to earn their degree. The university requires students to provide GRE scores that are no older than two years, although there is not a minimum score required. Students must also submit three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a resume.

Interested students can choose from astrophysics doctoral programs located all around the United States. Several of the programs require students to serve as a teaching assistant during their training.

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