The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers has a single graduate program whose course requirements can be fulfilled via either a physics or an astronomy "option." Most (but not all) students who end up doing astrophysics Ph.D. theses satisfy the requirements for the astronomy option, which comprises: Advancement to candidacy requires grades of B or better in Physics 501, 503, 507, 514, and either 607 or 608. If you have already taken a course that covers material similar to one of these, you have the option of testing out of the requirement via "challenge exam" at the start of the semester in which it is offered. You will also take a placement exam at the beginning of graduate school to assess whether you'd benefit from taking a refresher course at the advanced undergraduate level in some area.

In addition to course requirements, the department requires that each student pass a research-oriented candidacy exam, in which you demonstrate your ability to grasp the relevance, goals, and techniques of a current area of research. The candidacy exam has three components: a written paper, an oral presentation, and an oral exam. In the first semester of your second year of graduate school, working with a faculty mentor, you will write a 10-12 page paper in the form of a review or a research proposal that is a clear and well-referenced summary of your topic at the level of articles in Physics Today. After submitting your paper, you will give a 20-30 minute talk on its contents in the style of a conference presentation to a committee of department faculty members, who will then examine you for at least an hour on your understanding of the topic and the basic physics that is related to it.

A complete description of the graduate program requirements can be found here.

Within the astrophysics group, our students have additional opportunities that are not in the "required" category, but rather in the "strongly encouraged because they make graduate school more fun and educational" category. Examples include:

Last edited November 23, 2022.