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Core curriculum

This document is intended to provide an overview of the graduate curriculum. In addition to describing basic requirements and course offerings, it gives sample roadmaps with possible paths through which graduate students can acquire the basic knowledge and skills for entering research in three broad areas. These are only schematic, as the actual course schedule will vary according to faculty availability and student interest. We note that in addition to offerings in the Astronomy Department, there are a number of courses in other departments that might also be taken (see requirements).

Course Listing

Core Courses

All students are encouraged to prepare themselves for the preliminary and specific research work by engaging in a program of courses. It is strongly recommended that these be drawn from the following basic courses [key: EOY (every year), EOY (every other year), NR (not regularly offered)]:

  • Astronomy 201: Radiative Processes in Astronomy (EY)
  • Astronomy 202: Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics (EY)
  • Astronomy 256: Astronomy Data Science Laboratory (EY)
  • Astronomy 204: Numerical Techniques in Astronomy (EOY)
  • Astronomy 218: Stellar Dynamics and Galactic Structure (EOY)
  • Astronomy C228: Extragalactic Astronomy and Physical Cosmology (EOY)
  • Astronomy 252: Stellar Structure and Evolution (EOY)
  • Astronomy C254: High Energy Astrophysics (EOY)
  • Astronomy C249: Solar System Astrophysics (EOY?)
  • Astronomy 216: Interstellar Matter (NR)
  • Astronomy 217: Radiative Astrophysics: Stars, Disks, and Winds (NR)
  • Astronomy 255: Computational Methods in Astrophysics (NR)
  • Astronomy 267 Plasma Astrophysics (NR)
  • Astronomy 203: Astrophysical Techniques (?? James retired, don't know if anyone will teach again)

Astronomy 290AB: Introduction to Current Research is required of all students in their first year. This consists of weekly lectures by different faculty members and introduces the student to current research being carried out in the Department and nearby labs. This course is not a prelim topic.

Astronomy 250 classes are seminars, offered irregularly on various topics of interest to their instructors. These classes may be highly interesting and count towards your six-course requirement, but are usually not usable as prelim topics.

Other Courses

  • Computer Science 289A Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Computer Science 281A Statistical Learning Theory (like above but better because there are no undergrads)
  • Physics 288 Bayesian Data Analysis and Machine Learning for Physical Sciences
  • Physics 242A Theoretical Plasma Physics
  • Physics 231 General Relativity
  • Astronomy 300 (EY) Instruction Techniques in General Astronomy is normally taken concurrently with Graduate Student Instructor duties in Astronomy 7 or 10. This allows the student to take credits for acting as a GSI.



Here is an example of how the Department course offerings might look:

Sample 3 Year Schedule

Fall 1 Spring 1 Fall 2 Spring 2 Fall 3 Spring 3
201 202 201 202 201 202
218 228 218 228 218 228
252 216 254 216 252 216
217 203 249 255 217 203

ISM/Star/Planet Formation

Those interested in ISM and star/planet formation and solar system might take:

ISM/Star/Planet Formation Sequence – ODD YEAR</caption>

F1 S1 F2 S2 F3
201 203 249 202 217
218 216 252

ISM/Star/Planet Formation Sequence – EVEN YEAR

F2 S2 F3 S3
201 202 217 203
249 216 218

Comments: ODD schedule is stretched out relative to EVEN schedule

Prelim topics from 201-203, 216, 217, 252 are best.

Attendance in ISM/Star Formation Journal Club (292-2) including presentation would be recommended.

Research with Basri, Backer, Blitz, Bower, Chiang, De Pater, Graham, Heiles, Marcy, McKee, Welch.

Extragalactic Studies and Cosmology

Those interested in extragalactic studies and cosmology would take:

Extragalactic and Cosmology Sequence – ODD YEAR

F1 S1 F2 S2
201 203 254 202
218 228 216

Extragalactic and Cosmology Sequence – EVEN YEAR

F2 S2 F3 S3 F4
201 202 252 203 254
218 228

Prelim topics from 201, 203, 218, 228 are best.

Attendance in Cosmology Seminar (292-5) including presentation would be recommended.

Research with Bloom, Bower, Davis, Graham, Filippenko, Ma, Spinrad, White.

Compact Objects, Stars and Stellar Death

Those interested in compact objects, stars, and death of stars would take similar sequence to extragalactic and cosmology or ISM and star/planet formation depending on mean redshift of interest.

Prelim topics from 201-202, 216, 252, and 254 are best.

Research with Bloom, Boggs, Filippenko, Quataert.