The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Astronomy and Astrophysics - PhD

Division: Physical Sciences
Degree Type: PhD 

Program Description

We work on a wide range of topics at the frontiers of astrophysics: from the newest theories in early-Universe cosmology to the ancient ideas of the Babylonian theory of the planets; from distant thermonuclear flashes to the nearby interstellar medium; from large-scale structure to small-scale star formation. We study the cosmic background radiation, as well as design adaptive optics. We build detectors, use telescopes and interferometers, and wethink about the cosmic consequences of string theory. Our interests range from the theory of astrophysical jets to observations from a jumbo jet carrying an infrared telescope. We investigate the universe using wavelengths from radio astronomy to the highest-energy cosmic rays.

We travel the world to discover the cosmos. Our scientific activities take us south to Antarctica and Argentina, north to the polar regions.  We go anywhere we can learn about the Universe.  We convey the excitement of our cosmic discoveries to the best graduate and undergraduate students in the world, as well as Chicago public schools and the public through Adler Planetarium. Indeed, by public lectures we spread the wonders of the Universe around the city and around the country, and open the door to the cosmos for the next generation of astronomers, lawyers, and venture capitalists.  We are Chicago Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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  • The University of Chicago  
  • The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • 5607 S. Drexel
  • Chicago, IL 60637
  • Phone: 773-702-9808
  • Website:

Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: January 6, 2014

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

While campus visits and interviews are not required, we do encourage department visits. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics admits applicants only for the PhD degree. 

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application and Supplemental Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee: $55. 
  3. References: Three letters of reference should be included with your application.
  4. Graduate Record Examinations and TOEFL Scores:
  5. Graduate Record Exam scores (general and one subject test) are required of all applicants, including those with previous MAs. For information on additional examinations required of some international applicants, please see the Test Requirements page on the divisional website. The University GRE code is: 1832 and the department code is 0801 or 0802.
  6. Statement of Academic Purpose: All applicants should carefully state their purpose in pursuing a graduate degree. This statement is given considerable weight in the final decision regarding admission.
  7. Writing Sample: All applicants should submit a sample of their scholarly writing, between 10 and 40 pages.
  8. Transcripts: Official transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions should be submitted with your application.Three Letters of Recommendation


Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are released in early March. No decisions will be given by phone or in advance of their official release.

Program Requirements

The normal program of courses in the first three quarters of graduate study in Astronomy and Astrophysics consists of nine required courses: 

  • Year 1: Autumn quarter – Stars; Winter quarter – Interstellar Medium; Spring quarter – Galaxies.
  • Year 2: Autumn quarter – Cosmology; Winter quarter – High Energy Astrophysics; Spring quarter – Detection of Radiation.

First and second year students will conduct a summer research project and participate in research activities, or, courses of their choice in all quarters. Weekly activities include Faculty Research Seminars, Graduate Student Research Seminars, and Department Colloquia.

Students will report on their cumulative research activity and participate in a candidacy examination at the end of Year 2. Admission to candidacy depends on faculty approval of the students' performance in course work and the above mentioned activities. A student is officially admitted to research on the basis of a satisfactory performance on the Candidacy Examination. Upon which, the student should arrange with a faculty member to have that faculty member serve as sponsor for the students research.

The student must write a dissertation. The dissertation shall consist of a paper, or papers, submitted for publication in a recognized scientific journal, and the student may be the sole author, or a member of multiple authors by a group who will be determined by a faculty committee. A dissertation shall be accepted as satisfying the requirements of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics only if it has been approved by the Dissertation Committee and has been submitted for publication in a recognized scientific journal.

The student must also take a final oral examination, covering the matter of the dissertation and its related subjects.





Costs & Financial Aid

As a general principle, we provide extensive funding for all students who matriculate in our doctoral programs. Applicants to our doctoral programs are considered for all fellowship resources at the University of Chicago for which they are eligible.

We offer Divisional fellowships at two levels. Both levels provide support for up to five years, are contingent on good progress, and are renewed annually.