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 required courses, 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 to earn the degree.

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.

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Master of Science in astronomy, visit the UI General Catalog.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Upper-Level Astronomy Courses 12
Additional Upper-Level Electives for Non-Thesis Option or Thesis Work 18
Total Hours 30

NOTE: 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.

Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 15th (to be considered for support)


Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.