Graduate Applications and Admissions

Admission to the astronomy graduate program requires an outstanding record of accomplishment and clear evidence of considerable academic promise, as judged by strong intellectual achievements, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and resume (or c.v.).  In the personal statement, we encourage applicants to indicate possible research interest at Illinois and any associated faculty. As our students are typically supported by teaching or research assistantships, we do not require evidence of financial resources for astronomy applicants.

Our recruitment focuses on the PhD degree, and we typically do not admit students for the MS degree only.  Students pursuing a PhD may obtain a masters degree en route.

A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, or another related technical field from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or an approved institution of higher learning abroad is required for admission.  Course preparation in intermediate and advanced undergraduate physics and astronomy are essential.  Students are expected to make up deficiencies during the first graduate year.

Admission decisions are made once a year in the spring.  Applications for admission must be received by December 15.  In rare circumstances, applicants may be admitted for the spring semester, in addition to the customary fall semester admissions.

Application forms for admission and financial aid may be filled out directly via the Web at

Illinois offers application fee waivers for FreeApp Applicants (to increase Illinois diversity), McNair Scholars, active duty military personnel, and Illinois associated Allies.

In many cases, we will submit the best applications for consideration of Campus Fellowships, which are great opportunities for many students to have external support for up to 3 years (no requirment to TA or RA for that period).   In addition, we are excited that Illinois is a partner of the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) program which provides even more opportunities for underrepresented graduate applicants.  


  • Deadline: December 15 (new deadline effective Fall 2020)
  • Education: Bachelor's degree in physical science or engineering, official transcripts from undergraduate institution are required
  • Minimum Grade-Point Average: 3.0 (A = 4.0)
  • For Fall 2020 admissions: We will give lesser weight to Spring 2020 academic performance in light of significant disruptions due to COVID-19.  See this page for additional advice.
  • Required Test: to be considered for admission, all applicants must take:
  • Optional Test: we will accept and consider (along with the full admission package):
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three Required
  • Personal Statement

Additional Requirements for International Applicants:



Address correspondence to:

Chair, Graduate Admissions Committee
Department of Astronomy
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
103 Astronomy Building
1002 W. Green Street
Urbana, Illinois 61801

You may also request information from the Graduate Admissions Committee at:
tel: (217) 333-9784
fax: (217) 244-7638