Twin Cities campus

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Twin Cities Campus

Astrophysics Ph.D.

Astrophysics, Minnesota Institute for
College of Science and Engineering
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, 116 Church Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612-624-4811; fax: 612-626-2029)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2020
  • Length of program in credits: 64
  • This program does not require summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
Astrophysics is the study of the universe and its constituent parts. The department conducts research in observational, theoretical, and computational astrophysics, as well as instrument development. The main research areas include minor planetary bodies, solar system properties, dynamics of normal and active galaxies, stellar evolution, interaction of stars with their environments, the interstellar medium, astrophysical magnetohydrodynamics, and galactic and cosmological structure. Observational research includes activities that cover X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths. Extensive research programs in space physics, nucleosynthesis, and the elementary particle-cosmology interface are also carried out in interdisciplinary connections with the graduate program in physics.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.50.
Undergraduate astronomy, physics or equivalent degree required.
Other requirements to be completed before admission:
Coursework in analytical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and statistical physics.
Special Application Requirements:
A statement of career goals, scores from the GRE General (Aptitude) Test and Subject (Advanced) Test in physics, and three letters of recommendation are required. Applications are due by January 1 to be considered for fellowships and by January 15 for teaching and research assistantships. Students are admitted fall semester only. Additional application information is available at
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 79
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 21
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 19
    • Paper Based - Total Score: 550
    • Total Score: 6.5
    • Final score: 80
The preferred English language test is Test of English as Foreign Language.
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
28 credits are required in the major.
12 credits are required outside the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for students to remain in good standing.
The PhD degree requires a minimum of 40 course credits, including 28 credits in the major, and 12 credits in a minor or supporting program; 24 thesis credits are also required. The graduate written examination, typically held during the week prior to the start of fall semester, must be passed on the second "real" attempt (first-year students are given a free trial). A second-year project must be defended by the end of the fall semester of the third year. The preliminary oral exam must be passed by the end of the third year. Normally, the preliminary oral exam includes a presentation on the second-year project.
Required Courses
The following 2 courses are required for all students. The remaining 20 major credits are chosen in consultation with advisor.
PHYS 5011 - Classical Physics I (4.0 cr)
PHYS 5012 - Classical Physics II (4.0 cr)
Supporting Program
Students must take a minimum of 12 credits in coursework from related fields. Specific courses are chosen in consultation with advisor.
Thesis Credits
Take 24 credits after passing preliminary oral exam.
AST 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
More program views..
View college catalog(s):
· College of Science and Engineering

View future requirement(s):
· Fall 2023
· Fall 2022
· Spring 2021
· Fall 2020

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PHYS 5011 - Classical Physics I
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Classical mechanics: Lagrangian/Hamiltonian mechanics, orbital dynamics, rigid body motion, special relativity. prereq: 4001, 4002 or instr consent
PHYS 5012 - Classical Physics II
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Classical electromagnetism: electrostatics, magnetostatics, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves, radiation, interaction of charged particles with matter. prereq: 5011 or instr consent
AST 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
(No description) prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required