College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2017-2018

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Astronomy and Planetary Science, Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program in Astronomy and Planetary Science prepares a student to work as an academic, government, or industrial research in astronomy or planetary science.  Each student completes a ten-course core curriculum and works on an original research project under the direction of a faculty member.  Research work culminates in an oral presentation and a dissertation.

Careers

What Can I Do with a Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy?


University Requirements

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60-109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.

    The full policy can be viewed here.
     

Overview

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 90 units of degree requirements

Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 90
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.

Purpose Statement

The Ph.D. program in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences will leverage the state-of-the-art astronomical resources found in Arizona, especially one of a kind facilities near Flagstaff, and deliver a unique and distinct graduate education that cannot be found in Arizona’s other state universities. Specifically, the Department of Physics and Astronomy will partner with Lowell Observatory, United States Geological Survey (USGS) Astrogeology Science Center, United States Naval Observatory, and the Naval Research Laboratory, as well as the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) and the Naval Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI), all in or near Flagstaff. The new program will focus on the use of telescopes to study the origin and evolution of planetary systems. 
 
Students will build skills and knowledge through formal class work and an original research project. Core coursework will focus on the development of essential skills PhD astronomers and planetary scientists need upon entering the workforce in an academic or industrial setting (instrument design and fabrication, optical design, computational physics, big data, and techniques of observational astronomy). These courses will focus on advanced topics in astronomy and planetary science that students need for a solid foundation upon which to build their own postdoctoral research (formation and evolution of solar systems, atmospheres, interiors, and surfaces of planetary bodies, astro-chemistry, exoplanet science, and special topics). In addition, students will perform their own original research, write a dissertation, and make an oral, public presentation of their results. In the original research component, students will learn how to collect and analyze data, write up their results, and communicate their results to others in a manner consistent with professional standards in the astronomical and planetary science communities.

Student Learning Outcomes

Our PhD program in Astronomy and Planetary Science is designed to prepare students to carry out original research in the private sector, government facilities, or academia.

  • Mastery of advanced knowledge and ability to solve theoretical problems in Astronomy and Planetary Science.
  • Mastery or knowledge of techniques in instrument design and fabrication, optical design, data collection, and computation
  • Ability to synthesize and discuss recent publications in Astronomy and Planetary Science
  • Ability to present to experts a well-designed plan to execute original research
  • Capability to successfully execute an original and significant research project of publishable quality in Astronomy or Planetary Science
  • Ability to present and discuss in oral and written formats original research results in the context of scientific meetings, workshops, and a final dissertation defense
  • Publication of original research in an Astronomy or Planetary Science journal
  • Ability to communicate with the public on topics in Astronomy and Planetary Science
     

 

Details

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 


    Individual program admission requirements include:

  • There are no additional requirements.

Doctoral Requirements
  • Take the following 90 units:

    Thirty credit hours of core classes from an MS degree could be applied toward the degree requirements with the approval of the dissertation committee.

    You must pass a comprehensive exam in your fifth semester and an oral exam on your dissertation.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability



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