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:

Research Opportunities

  • 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. 


Interested in Studying Planetary Sciences?