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Astronomy, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #8 (ARWU) , NY,
The Astronomy program for the Ph.D. at the Columbia University is designed to foster the intellectual and professional development of our students. To this end, graduate students are fully integrated into our departmental activities.


The primary goal of the Astronomy program is to cultivate the ability to perform independent academic research. Shortly after arrival on campus, incoming students choose a faculty-guided research project, and in the first two years work with two different faculty members in distinct areas of astronomy

The culmination of the two years of preparation comes in the form of a dissertation proposal presented before a committee in the third year. The remaining part of the graduate student's career is devoted to completing a seminal work of original research.

Research in astronomy and astrophysics is conducted in both the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Physics. Students in the Astronomy Department routinely work with faculty member from both departments that share the historic Pupin Laboratories building. A number of students also pursue PhD dissertation research at the neighboring American Museum of Natural History whose faculty is closely affiliated with the Department. Our faculty and students also have close ties with other research groups in New York City, including the new Simons Center for Computational Astronomy, CUNY, and New York University.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include: 

  • Radiative Processes
  • Physics of The Interstellar Medium and Intergalactic Medium
  • Stellar and Galactic Dynamics
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Physical Cosmology

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks. Read more about TOEFL®PBT.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Schedule IELTS

Academic Requirements

Admissions Requirements

  • an undergraduate major in physics, astronomy, or a related field is required in addition to a solid background in physics and mathematics
  • transcripts showing courses and grades from the school(s) they attended
  •  a statement of academic purpose
  •  three letters of evaluation from academic sources

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Manhattan

  • 2638 - 5760 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


About fifteen students are accepted each year for the PhD program. All admitted students receive full funding, including tuition and stipend. Standard fellowships are for five years, and involve teaching or other types of department service during at least three of the five years. Students are very often successful in obtaining further support from competitive fellowships offered by Columbia, as well as from the various national fellowship competitions.  In addition, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences makes summer stipend support available for up to five years to students who maintain good academic standing.

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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