Prospective Student Information

The department offers multidisciplinary programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in Planetary Sciences.

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Program Areas

Prospective students are encouraged to review current research areas at the Research Focus site and to contact faculty to discuss opportunities for collaboration. Areas of specialization include, but are not restricted to:

  • experimental, observational, and theoretical study of the atmospheres of planets in our solar system and other planetary systems
  • interiors and surfaces of planets and planetary satellites
  • asteroid and cometary astronomy and physics
  • meteorites and sample returns
  • problems of plasma physics associated with cosmic rays
  • the solar wind and its interaction with solar system bodies
  • celestial dynamics
  • solar physics
  • investigations of the formation of the solar system and other planetary systems
  • studies of the habitability of planets and moons in our solar system and of exoplanets, and other investigations of astrobiological topics

Application Criteria

Applicants should have completed an undergraduate major in a physical science such as astronomy, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, geology, mathematics, or physics. However, admission is based on the overall demonstrated capability and preparation of the applicant.

To learn about required coursework and steps to degree, review the PTYS Ph.D. degree requirements.

Additional information about degree requirements and available courses and course descriptions is available from the Graduate Program site.

Student Funding and Support

It is the department's intention to provide up to five (5) years of financial support (fall and spring semesters) towards completion of the Ph.D., contingent upon availability of funding and the student's making satisfactory academic progress and remaining in good academic standing with the department and the Graduate College.

In most cases, this support will be provided in either the form of a half-time (20 hours per week, .50 FTE) Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or a half-time Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) for the fall and spring semesters. Most of our students supplement this department support (fall and spring support) by independently arranging for full-time summer GRA appointments.

It is the policy of the department to provide students who receive an outside fellowship or scholarship with sufficient support in assistantships so that the total benefits package will be at least comparable to that of someone with a .50 FTE GTA or GRA who receives a summer GRA stipend. Summer GRAs are typically available, but are not guaranteed by the department. 

Incoming graduate students are provided with computing resources in support of academics and basic research, and students have access to university computing systems and resources. Research advisors may provide additional, advanced, computing resources. 

Fall 2021 Admissions Update

Application deadline: December 11, 2020

The University of Arizona recognizes that for Spring 2020, many schools offered students a P/F option for courses previously using letter grades; the the Graduate College will accept these grades and will convert them accordingly as part of the application review.
Hosted visit for admitted graduate students is scheduled for March 1 and 2, 2021.
Offers of admission are typically extended in late January. Admitted students are invited to attend a hosted two-day open house, usually scheduled for late February or early March. During the visit, prospective students will have the opportunity to attend classes, meet faculty and students, and tour facilities. Financial support for matriculating students is confirmed by early June; students also receive at that time information about campus orientations. Incoming students will meet with the Graduate Admission and Advising Committee in August to discuss and confirm enrollment and advising and review any outstanding questions about the program and the department.
Contact us at PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOm5xenZmZnZiYWZAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj5ucXp2ZmZ2YmFmQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4= with questions regarding the application process.

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Interested in Studying Planetary Sciences?