Astronomy and Astrophysics

Program Overview

The graduate program in Astronomy and Astrophysics is offered by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, leading to the Doctor of Philosophy. In some cases, the Department may admit students to the Master of Science as preliminary phase before proceeding to the PhD.

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics is actively engaged in a wide range of observational and theoretical research on solar system dynamics, stars, stellar systems, the interstellar medium, the Galaxy, galaxies, quasars, clusters of galaxies, cosmology, and problems in general relativity. The Department has close ties with the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) and the Dunlap Institute​, which further enhance the opportunities for our students to interact with leading researchers.

Faculty and students use the major optical, radio, and satellite observing facilities of the world. We have an active experimental program using telescopes on long-duration stratospheric balloons and a complementary program designing and building instrumentation for optical, millimetre, and radio telescopes.

There are approximately 100 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and staff in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, CITA, and Dunlap Institute. Students benefit from direct interactions with the broad range of external speakers invited to weekly seminar programs and colloquia. ​


Quick Facts

Domestic International
Application payment deadline PhD:

9-Dec-2019

PhD:

9-Dec-2019

Supporting documents deadline PhD:

18-Dec-2019

PhD:

18-Dec-2019

Minimum admission average PhD:

B+ average in Master’s

PhD:

B+ average in Master’s

Direct entry option from bachelor's to PhD? PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in courses in the relevant discipline)

PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in courses in the relevant discipline)

Is a supervisor identified before or after admission? PhD:

After

PhD:

After

If a supervisor is identified after admission (as per question above), is admission conditional upon securing a supervisor? PhD:

No

PhD:

No

Is a supervisor assigned by the graduate unit or secured by the applicant? PhD:

Applicant

PhD:

Applicant

Program length (full-time only) PhD:

4 years; 5 years if entering directly from bachelor’s

PhD:

4 years; 5 years if entering directly from bachelor’s


​Master of Science

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants must hold an appropriate bachelor's degree with high academic standing from a recognized university.

  • Applicants whose primary language is not English and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English must demonstrate proficiency in English. See General Regulations section 4.3 for requirements.

  • Because many universities do not offer extensive undergraduate training in astronomy and astrophysics, preparation in physics and mathematics is an acceptable background.

Program Requirements

  • Completion of 2.0 required full-course equivalents (FCEs): AST 1501Y and AST 1500Y, with different supervisors. Students are immediately engaged in original research throughout these two required research courses. An oral exam by committee is held for each. AST 1501Y is normally completed during the Fall/Winter of Year 1, and AST 1500Y is completed in the following Summer session.

  • Minimum of 1.0 FCE (two half courses) from the AST preparatory, elective, or specialized courses.

  • More courses may be taken for credit or audited as appropriate.

Program Length

3 sessions full-time (typical registration sequence: F/W/S)

Time Limit

3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy​

Program Description

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics offers dynamic and competitive doctoral programs which emphasize research.

Students may be accepted into the PhD program via one of two routes: 1) following completion of an appropriate master's degree or 2) direct entry following completion of a bachelor's degree.
 

PhD Program

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants whose primary language is not English and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English must demonstrate proficiency in English. See General Regulations section 4.3 for requirements.

  • Applicants may be accepted into the PhD program following completion of an MSc degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Toronto, or an MSc degree in another appropriate discipline or from elsewhere deemed equivalent, with an average of at least B+ or demonstrated comparable research competence.

  • Because many universities do not offer extensive undergraduate training in astronomy and astrophysics, preparation in physics and mathematics is an acceptable background.

Program Requirements

  • There is no minimum course requirement in the four-year program except for courses deemed necessary by the student's PhD supervisory committee.

  • Students register in the AST 4000Y Research course series (in sequence of the last digit: 2, 3, etc.) beginning in the Summer session of Year 1 and continue through the sequence through Year 4. The first registration, AST 4002Y, corresponds to the qualifying examinations. The series continues with registration each Fall/Winter, starting with AST4003Y and is incremented by one digit each subsequent academic year. This registration is tied to thesis research progress, which is assessed based on the two required annual PhD supervisory committee meetings in October and April.

  • Students must successfully complete the two parts of the PhD qualifying examinations: general knowledge and thesis proposal. Both are oral examinations conducted by a panel of faculty members. The general knowledge section evaluates the student's mastery of general astronomy and astrophysics. The thesis proposal section evaluates the feasibility and value of the proposed thesis, and verifies that the student has sufficient preparation in the relevant research area. It is based in part on a written summary of the proposed thesis provided by the student to the examiners. Both qualifying examinations are taken in the Summer session of Year 1.

  • A thesis embodying the results of original research which must be submitted for appraisal in accordance with the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.

  • Residence. Students are normally expected to be on campus full-time for the duration of the program.

Program Length

4 years

Time Limit

6 years
 

PhD Program (Direct-Entry)

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants whose primary language is not English and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English must demonstrate proficiency in English. See General Regulations section 4.3 for requirements.

  • Students are accepted into the PhD program following completion of a bachelor's degree, with an average in the final two years equivalent to a University of Toronto A- or better from a recognized university

  • Because many universities do not offer extensive undergraduate training in astronomy and astrophysics, preparation in physics and mathematics is an acceptable background.

Program Requirements

  • Completion of 2.0 required full-course equivalents (FCEs): AST 1501Y and AST 1500Y, with different supervisors. Students are immediately engaged in original research throughout these two required research courses. AST 1501Y is normally completed during the Fall/Winter of Year 1, and AST 1500Y is completed in the following Summer session. An oral exam by committee is held for each.

  • A minimum of four half courses (2.0 FCEs) from the AST preparatory, elective, or specialized courses.

  • Students register in the AST 4000Y Research course series (in sequence of the last digit: 2, 3, etc,) beginning in the Summer session of Year 2 and continue the sequence through Year 5. The first registration, AST 4002Y, corresponds to the qualifying examinations. The series continues with registration each Fall/Winter, starting with AST 4003Y and is incremented by one digit each subsequent academic year. This registration is tied to thesis research progress, which is assessed based on the two required annual PhD supervisory committee meetings in October and April.

  • Students must successfully complete the two parts of the PhD qualifying examinations: general knowledge and thesis proposal. Both are oral examinations conducted by a panel of faculty members. The general knowledge section evaluates the student's mastery of general astronomy and astrophysics. The thesis proposal section evaluates the feasibility and value of the proposed thesis, and verifies that the student has sufficient preparation in the relevant research area. It is based in part on a written summary of the proposed thesis provided by the student to the examiners. Both qualifying examinations are taken in the Summer session of Year 2.

  • A thesis embodying the results of original research which must be submitted for appraisal in accordance with the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.

  • Residence. Students are normally expected to be on campus full-time for the duration of the program.

Program Length

5 years

Time Limit

7 years

Jielai Zhang

“My passion for asking questions and finding answers has flourished.”

Jielai Zhang
Alumna, PhD, Astronomy & Astrophysics
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