Graduate programs


The department offers a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in physics, and a Master of Science in astronomy. Students who wish to pursue a program in astronomy beyond the M.S. may qualify for a Ph.D. in physics with a specialization and dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics. An M.S. is not prerequisite to a Ph.D.

All graduate students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. in physics must pass the qualifying exam (see "Doctor of Philosophy in Physics"). Each entering graduate student is assigned a faculty advisor, who assists in preparing a plan of study and in guiding the student's progress. The Department of Physics and Astronomy participates in an interdisciplinary doctoral program, the Program in Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences (see Graduate College in the Catalog).

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Master of Science in Astronomy

The Master of Science in astronomy requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit. It is offered either with or without thesis. The M.S. may be a terminal degree or a step toward a Ph.D. in physics with specialization and a dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics. In either case the final examination is oral, conducted by a committee of three faculty members.

Students in the astronomy M.S. with thesis program earn the required 30 s.h. in courses numbered 170 or above, with at least 15 s.h. at the 200 level, and a g.p.a. of at least 3.00. The 30 s.h. must include at least 6 s.h. chosen from 029:232 Theoretical Astrophysics I, 029:233 Theoretical Astrophysics II,029:234 Stellar Structure and Evolution, and 029:235 Special Topics in Astrophysics. Students may earn a maximum of 6 s.h. in 029:220 Individual Critical Study and 029:282 Research: Astronomy. Seminars do not count for credit toward the 30 s.h. requirement. Up to one-third of the course work may be in graduate courses in related fields, such as meteorology, geology, and electrical engineering; selection of such courses is encouraged.

Students in the astronomy M.S. nonthesis program earn 18 s.h. of the required 30 s.h. in the core graduate courses 029:205 Classical Mechanics, 029:213 Classical Electrodynamics I, 029:214 Classical Electrodynamics II, 029:232 Theoretical Astrophysics I, 029:233 Theoretical Astrophysics II, 029:234Stellar Structure and Evolution, and 029:235 Special Topics in Astrophysics. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 in the core graduate courses. Students may earn a maximum of 4 s.h. in 029:220Individual Critical Study and 029:282 Research: Astronomy. Seminars do not count toward the required 30 s.h. Up to one-third of the course work may be in graduate courses in related fields, such as meteorology, geology, and electrical engineering; selection of such courses is encouraged.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Physics with sub-track in Astronomy

The University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy now offers a Ph.D. subtrack in Astronomy.  The key features of the subtrack are:

1) The GRE Physics test can be used in place of the department qualifying exam.

2) The required courses emphasize Astronomy and an early start to research.  A typical first year sequence is:

Fall Semester
ASTR:6880 High Energy Astrophysics - 3 semester hours
PHYS 5710 Classical Mechanics - 3 semester hours
ASTR:7991 Research in Astronomy - 3 semester hours

Spring Semester
ASTR:6781 Galactic Astronomy - 3 semester hours
PHYS:5730 Statistical Physics I - 3 semester hours
ASTR:7991 Research in Astronomy - 3 semester hours

The required coursework can be completed in two or three years, depending on how rapidly the student choses to her/his involvement in research.

Each student must complete four of the following courses in Astronomy:

ASTR:6870 Radiative Processes in Astrophysics 3 s.h.
ASTR:6770 The Interstellar Medium 3 s.h.
ASTR:6780 Stellar Astrophysics 3 s.h.
ASTR:6880 High Energy Astrophysics 3 s.h.
ASTR:6781 Galactic Astronomy 3 s.h.
ASTR:6782 Extragalactic Astronomy 3 s.h.
PHYS:7760 General Relativity and Cosmology 3 s.h.
PHYS:7830 Space and Astrophysical Plasma Physics 3 s.h.
In addition, each student must complete two of the following courses (a total of 6 s.h.):
PHYS:5710 Classical Mechanics 3 s.h.
PHYS:5730 Statistical Mechanics I 3 s.h.
PHYS:5811-5812 Classical Electrodynamics I-II 6 s.h.
PHYS:5741-5742 Quantum Mechanics I-II 6 s.h.

Admissions Program

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College or the Graduate College section of the Catalog.

Students qualified for graduate study are encouraged to apply for fellowships and assistantships. Contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy chair.

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