Future astronomers, who will carry the current astronomical revolution into the next century, require a solid foundation in Astronomy, Astrophysics, and related areas.  A major goal of the graduate program is to offer a stimulating environment in which the student's own creativity and enthusiasm for Astronomy can develop fully.

The Astronomy Department at Illinois, in collaboration with the Physics Department, offers graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics strong training in a wide range of areas related to science and engineering. Students also have ready access to observing and computing facilities for their dissertation research, and are guided by distinguished faculty.

In the past two decades, astronomy has undergone a technological transformation. Ground-based astronomy has benefitted enormously from the development of modern solid-state detector arrays and large radio and optical/infrared telescopes. Satellites have opened previously inaccessible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to observation. University of Illinois Astronomy students and faculty make active use of leading-edge space-based and ground-based facilities (such as DES or SPT) in their research.

Astrophysical theory can now treat, with considerable rigor, phenomena ranging from stellar and planetary formation, through mechanisms that may power energetic galaxies and galaxy formation, to conditions during the earliest moments in the evolution of the cosmic fireball. High-speed computers, particularly new generations of supercomputers and parallel processors such as those at NCSA, play a major role in much of this scientific activity. Future research astronomers, who will carry this revolution into the 21st century, will need a strong grounding in physical theory and in the interpretation of modern astronomical data. The University of Illinois Astronomy Department provides this training to all its graduate students.


The Department of Astronomy offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The goal of the graduate program in astronomy is to provide broadly based training in modern astrophysics and astronomy for a small and carefully selected student body. Individually designed programs involving close contact with faculty members are encouraged, and an understanding of fundamental principles and techniques and their applications to research problems of current interest is emphasized. Students are expected to acquire a solid knowledge of modern physics as well as of general astronomy. A major objective is to maintain an exciting intellectual environment in which students can develop their scientific creativity and their enthusiasm for astronomy.


The Graduate Handbook for the Department of Astronomy sets out the policies, rules, and requirements for graduate students in the Department of Astronomy. All policies are intended to be consistent with those in the Graduate College Handbook (GCH), which takes precedence should a conflict in policy arise. The policies described herein apply to students admitted with full graduate standing and with degree-seeking status. Information pertaining to other types of students, and regarding the admissions and registration procedures of the Graduate College, can be found in the GCH.