This is the first version of the 2022-23 General Catalog. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

Graduate study in physics and astronomy is highly individualized. Each entering graduate student is assigned a faculty advisor, who assists in preparing a plan of study and in guiding the student's progress.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • understand the foundational principles that transcend many distinct areas, and learn the technical language, problem-solving skills, and training in technical listening and discussion;
  • learn and practice advanced discourse in mathematical aspects that translate to physics;
  • become familiar with the state-of-the-art experimental tools and equipment in the field;
  • promote aspects of creativity and originality in the field and prepare for adaptability to new discoveries;
  • learn and practice advanced discourse in experimental and observational aspects, including data and information mining, translating experimental observations to physical principles and vice versa; and
  • learn analysis of data and computational skills as well as become familiar with state-of-the-art techniques for data processing.

The Master of Science program in astronomy requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must complete a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate work, including at least 12 s.h. from the courses listed below, at least 3 s.h. numbered 5000 or above, and the remainder in courses numbered at least 4000 or above. At least 24 s.h. must be completed under the auspices of the University of Iowa after admission to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Seminars do not count toward the minimum of 30 s.h. required for the degree. All students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.75.

Up to one-third of the program of study may be taken in related scientific fields (e.g., meteorology, geology, electrical engineering); selection of such courses is encouraged.

The degree is offered either with or without thesis. The M.S. may be a terminal degree or a step toward a Ph.D. in physics with subprogram and a dissertation in astronomy or astrophysics. In either case the final examination is oral, conducted by a committee of three faculty members.

Students must select at least 12 s.h. from these.

ASTR:6782Extragalactic Astronomy3
ASTR:6785The Interstellar Medium3
ASTR:6790Stellar Astrophysics3
ASTR:6870Radiative Processes in Astrophysics3
ASTR:6880High Energy Astrophysics3
ASTR:7775Special Topics in Astrophysics1-3
ASTR:7830Space and Astrophysical Plasma Physics3
PHYS:7760General Relativity2-3
PHYS:7761Cosmology3

For the M.S. with thesis option, students may take no more than 6 s.h. in PHYS:7992 Individual Critical Study and ASTR:7991 Research: Astronomy; and for those who complete the M.S. without thesis and writing a critical essay, no more than 4 s.h. may be taken in those courses.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Students qualified for graduate study are encouraged to apply for fellowships and assistantships. Contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy chair.

Graduates have opportunities for employment in universities, colleges, and research laboratories in government and industry. Astronomy graduates have mastered skills that are readily transferable to a number of fields. They might choose to work in engineering, software development, finance, or consulting.

The Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Astronomy, M.S.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
30 s.h. must be graduate level coursework; graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a, b
Students must maintain a Graduate College program GPA of 3.00 or higher. c
 Hours0
First Year
Fall
Required course d 3
Required course d 3
Required course d 3
 Hours9
Spring
Required course d 3
Elective course (numbered 4000 or above) e 3
Elective course (numbered 4000 or above) e 3
 Hours9
Second Year
Fall
ASTR:7991 Research: Astronomy f 2
Elective course (numbered 5000 or above) e 3
Elective course (numbered 4000 or above) e 3
 Hours8
Spring
PHYS:7992 Individual Critical Study f 2
Elective course (numbered 4000 or above) e 2
Final Exam g
 Hours4
 Total Hours30
a
Students must complete at least 12 s.h. from list of approved required courses, at least 3 s.h. numbered 5000 or above, and the remainder in courses numbered at least 4000 or above. Note: seminars do not count toward the minimum of 30 s.h. required for the degree.
b
Students must complete specific requirements in the University of Iowa Graduate College after program admission. Refer to the Graduate College website and the Manual of Rules and Regulations for more information.
c
Graduate College program GPA is comprised of all courses that are approved degree requirements. If a student takes more than the minimum required number of semester hours to complete the degree, but all courses taken are eligible to count toward the degree, those courses will be included in the Graduate College program GPA.
d
See the General Catalog for list of approved courses.
e
Work with faculty advisor to select appropriate coursework. Up to one-third of the program of study may be taken in related scientific fields (e.g., meteorology, geology, electrical engineering); selection of such courses is encouraged.
f
No more than 4 s.h. may be taken from ASTR:7991 and PHYS:7992.
g
Oral examination.