Graduate Program

Department of Astronomy

The Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas is one of the largest in the United States, with 20 active teaching faculty, 30 research scientists and research associates, approximately 15 postdoctoral fellows, and about 40 graduate students. The research activities of the faculty and staff span virtually all of modern astronomy.


Prospective Graduate
Student Information

Information for Current
Graduate Students


In recent years the faculty have won five of the major awards of the American Astronomical Society, as well as numerous other honors and fellowships, placing the Department among the top few American astronomical institutions. The low student-teacher ratio allows students to work closely with experts in their field of interest.

The association between the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory provides excellent opportunities in optical astronomy.

We offer strong programs in millimeter and submillimeter astronomy, infrared astronomy, radio astronomy, space astronomy, and theoretical astrophysics.

Collaborations with groups in physics, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and geological science are also common.

Visiting scientists from around the world join our astronomers in research; astronomers and graduate students, in turn, frequently use national radio and optical observatories and facilities elsewhere.


mcdonald observatory facilities
See: McDonald
Observatory
Facilities


McDonald Observatory

The Observatory complex is located 450 miles west of Austin in the Davis Mountains, one of the darkest sky areas in the continental United States. At present, there are four operating telescopes: 9.2-m Hobby*Eberly Telescope (HET), 2.7-m Harlan J. Smith Telescope, 2.1-m Otto Struve Telescope, and the 0.8-m Telescope. The HET is an innovative departure from classical telescope design and is dedicated primarily to the spectroscopic analysis of light.

The Observatory is equipped with a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation for optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy, as well as operating one of the first and most productive lunar ranging stations. In addition to its own facilities, McDonald Observatory has a share in a submillimeter wave telescope on Mauna Kea. Our astronomers and students also make frequent use of national and international facilities, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Infared Telescope Facility. The Whole Earth Telescope project, led by Texas astronomers, involves simultaneous observations on telescopes worldwide.

Graduate students typically receive about 25% of the nights on the two largest telescopes at McDonald, with additional time being granted to their advisors for joint projects. Students doing dissertation research receive high priority on all telescopes.

Austin Facilities

The University of Texas at Austin is a leading institution of higher education and research, the largest state-supported university, and the oldest and largest of the University of Texas System. It is second only to Harvard in the number of endowed faculty positions and many of the faculty are members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winners.

The University offers many excellent facilities and resources to graduate astronomy students. ut tower at dusk The University of Texas at Austin has the sixth largest academic library system in North America, the fifth largest in the United States, with more than eight million volumes. Robert Lee Moore Hall is home to a large Physics-Math-Astronomy Library and the Astronomy Department itself houses a wealth of astronomical reference materials in the Péridier Library. A 16-inch telescope on the roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall and a 9-inch telescope in nearby T.S. Painter Hall offer students and the public an introduction to the night sky. The Astronomy Department and the Observatory also offer up-to-date computer facilities, including sophisticated networks of workstations and personal computers. Machine and electronic shops, as well as specialized equipment, are also available.

Graduate Astronomy Program

The Graduate Program includes courses which will introduce students to the basic ideas of modern astronomy and astrophysics, as well as more advanced material including:


Course
Title
AST 380E
Radiative Processes and Radiative Transfer
AST 381
Theoretical Astrophysics
AST 381C
Gravitational Dynamics
AST 382C
Astrophysical Gas Dynamics
AST 383
Stellar Astronomy
AST 383C
Stellar Atmospheres
AST 383D
Stellar Structure and Evolution
AST 386
Extragalactic Astronomy
AST 386C
Properties of Galaxies
AST 389
Dynamical Astronomy
AST 392D
Mathematical Techniques in Astronomy
AST 392E
Optical Techniques in Astronomy
AST 392G
Observing Techniques in Astronomy
AST 392J
Astronomical Instrumentation
AST 393F
Survey of the Interstellar Medium
AST 396C
Elements of Cosmology
AST 398T
Supervised Teaching in Astronomy

Additional course information is available in the Graduate Catalog.

Students select seven courses from a list of ten core courses and two elective courses from the list above. Attendance at the Seminar for First-Year Astronomy Graduate Students is required during the first Fall Semester. We offer a number of advanced courses, as well as five seminar series, which allow faculty, research staff, students, and visiting scientists to present their current research.

Throughout their graduate career, students carry out research projects designed to introduce them to the frontiers of modern astronomy. At the end of their second year, students defend their research to date. Students have the option of taking a Masters Degree at this time, and then continuing with the doctoral program or going directly into the doctoral program without applying for a Masters Degree. We have lists of current graduate students and their research projects, as well as the research interests of our faculty and research scientists.

For more information:

Graduate Admissions
Department of Astronomy
2515 Speedway, Stop C1400
Austin, TX 78712-1205

email: Grad Coordinator

kvrx logo

Podcast Interviews

Astronomy graduate student Michael Gully-Santiago interviews astronomers Dr. Jefferey Silverman and Dr. J.J. Hermes on the KVRX science radio program 'They Blinded me with Science' at the University of Texas at Austin.

Listen

DJ Superdupernova
Dr. Jeffrey Silverman discusses supernovae

White Dwarf Stellar Pulsations
Dr. J.J. Hermes talks about white dwarf stars


Graduate Brochure

graduate brochure

Overview of research and personnel at The University of Texas at Austin Astronomy Program

Brochure (pdf)


Why choose UT Astronomy?

Consider these reasons...


Useful links

University of Texas Graduate School

UT Graduate Admissions Office

Graduate Catalog

Graduate Catalog: Astronomy

UT International Office

Graduate Student Assembly

Graduate Outreach Program

Fellowship Information

Astronomy Weekly Seminar Schedule

Tips for Applying to Graduate School in Astronomy


Outreach Opportunities to the Public

telescope tour

Volunteer opportunities for graduate students and others

Public Outreach Volunteer Opportunities


Graduate Student Officers

Graduate Representative

Kevin Gullikson

Asst. Graduate Representative

Emma Yu

Computer Liaison

Marshall Johnson

Colloquium Lunch Hosts

Keaton Bell
Yi-Kuan Chiang

PhD T-Shirt Czar

Jeremy Ritter


Giant Magellan Telescope

UT Astronomy is a partner in the international consortium building the 24.5 meter Giant Magellan Telescope. Ground was broken in Las Campanas, Chile in 2012. Many opportunities are available to UT Astronomy graduate students as a GMT partner.

Giant Magellan Telescope

giant magellan telescope

Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, Arizona

Tim Weinzirl's Dissertation Selected for Springer Book Series

Tim Weinzirl

Tim Weinzirl's 2013 Ph.D. thesis, "Probing Galaxy Evolution by Unveiling the Structure of Massive Galaxies Across Cosmic Time and in Diverse Environments", has been published as its own volume in the Springer Theses book series. Titles in the Springer Theses series are chosen based on their scientific excellence and broad impact on research. more..

Yi-Kuan Chiang Wins Edmonds Fellowship

Yi-Kuan Chiang

Yi-Kuan Chiang has won the 2014 Frank Edmonds Memorial Fellowship. Yi-Kuan works on the largest structures in the universe, clusters of galaxies, with Karl Gebhardt and Roderik Overzier, using numerical simulations to optimize search and analysis techniques for cluster progenitors at high redshift.

Michael Gully-Santiago and Taylor Chonis Present at SPIE-Montreal

Grad students Michael Gully-Santiago and Taylor Chonis presented at SPIE in Montreal, Quebec in June. Taylor's talk was based on work for the HET Wide Field Updgrade, "Mass production of volume phase holographic gratings for the VIRUS spectrograph array". Michael presented work with silicon immersion gratings, integral to the new IGRINS instrument at McDonald, "High performance silicon immersion gratings patterned with electron beam lithography". more..

Jeremy Ritter Wins BoV Second Year Defense Award

Jeremy Ritter

Jeremy Ritter has won this year's Board of Visitors Graduate Student Second Year Research Defense Award for his project entitled "Outflows and Chemical Enrichment from Clustered Supernovae in the First Galaxies". Jeremy has been working with Milos Milosavljevic on simulating the supernova explosions of the first stars in order to better understand their role in the assembly and chemical evolution of the first galaxies.

...more at In the News