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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Astronomy University of Washington



Course info


The goal of the graduate program in astronomy is education and mentoring of our students toward their long-term careers in research and teaching in astronomy or related STEM fields. More specifically, the program aims to produce doctoral graduates with a broad knowledge of Astronomy, effective communication skills, and experience in cutting-edge research.

Broad knowledge of Astronomy is gained through a full set of graduate astronomy courses covering every major research area in astrophysics. For most students, the curriculum during each quarter of their first two years includes: one core graduate course and one elective graduate course astronomy, which provide a sequenced set; a third formal course in a related field (e.g., astrobiology, physics, statistics, computer science, etc.) and/or faculty supervised research; and, weekly participation in astronomy colloquium, seminars, and journal club.

Effective communication skills are gained partly through the required one year of service as a teaching assistantship. This is usually done during the student’s first year. Being a teaching assistant also helps to broaden knowledge of astronomy. Other activities that help with communication skills include the journal club class, in which students present recent literature to their peers. Many of the graduate courses also require oral presentations. For those students wishing to hone their teaching skills, opportunities are available to be an instructor during the summer term.

Development of research skills starts in the first year. Students are expected to start with a small research project with a faculty member while they are taking classes. This first research project is expect to lead to the “Research Qualifier”, where the student submits a 5-10 page journal-quality write-up of the research project to be evaluated by a faculty committee, and gives an oral presentation. This project does NOT have to be related to the student’s Ph.D. project.

After two years the student will have completed the required course work, and the Research Qual, and the focus turns to research leading to the Ph.D. dissertation, which is usually completed around the 6th year.

Before becoming a Ph.D. candidate, the student must pass the “General Exam”, which is an oral presentation by the student on a topic related to the Ph.D. research topic. As well as demonstrating that the student is ready for state-of-the-art research in the area of interest, this exam is yet another opportunity for the student to improve their communication skills.

Although most students obtain a masters degree along the way, our program emphasizes the doctoral degree. Students are eligible to receive a master’s degree after adequate “mastery” in the required courses, and when they have met the Graduate School requirements.

Course options

Here are the different ways in which you can study Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Astronomy.

Full Time (90 credit hours)

Tuition fees

$30,208.00 (22,14,228) per year




University of Washington

Schmitz Hall, 1410 NE Campus Parkway,



98195, United States

Entry requirement for international students

Most entering students have a bachelor's degree in physics. Entering students are not required to have a background in astronomy, although some knowledge of general astronomy is expected of those to whom a teaching assistantship is offered. Interested undergraduates are urged to concentrate on preparation in physics and mathematics before entering.

English Proficiency:

The Graduate School is temporarily accepting official test scores for both the Duolingo English Test and the TOEFL ITP Plus For China to assist international students with remote testing options. This policy is currently in effect through the autumn 2021 admission cycle (i.e., students enrolling in autumn 2021).

TOEFL iBT - Minimum Required Score (ELP Required): 80; Recommended Score (ELP Satisfied): 92 or higher

TOEFL pBT - Minimum Required Score: 500

Duolingo: Minimum Required Score (ELP Required): 105; Recommended Score (ELP Satisfied): 120 or higher

IELTS: Minimum Required Score 6.5

* Please check with your chosen school for the exact entry requirements for your programme.

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