Astronomy and Planetary Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Physics and Astronomy

College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

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.

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) 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.

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.

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

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

  • 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 successfully complete. 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 successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.