5640 S. Ellis Avenue, 5th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60637, United States of America

University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics

5640 S. Ellis Avenue, 5th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60637, United States of America


Since its founding by George Ellery Hale in 1892, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been one of the preeminent astronomy departments in the country.

Throughout our history we have been known for our entrepreneurial spirit, close ties with physics, and a faculty distinguished by achievements in science and excellence in teaching. One testimony to that history of achievement is the number of NASA missions and observatories that are named after Chicago scientists: the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Kuiper Airborne Observatory, and the Parker Solar Probe.

Our department was the first in the world to use astrophysics in its name, reflecting a commitment to interdisciplinary research and innovative approaches combining both physics and astronomy that continues to this day. Our faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students share affiliations with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), Enrico Fermi Institute, and Argonne and Fermilab National Laboratories. Our scientific collaborations span the globe, with significant partnerships undertaking ambitious projects at the South Pole, in Argentina, Chile and in space. As a founding partner in the Giant Magellan Telescope, we anticipate the transformative impact of this instrument to propel key discoveries for decades to come.

We are a community guided by a sense of our history - and in the Chicago tradition - driven by the pursuit of big questions, from the origin of planetary systems and existence of life in the Universe to understanding the physics of collisions of black holes and neutron stars. We shape new fields of inquiry by bringing together laboratory astrophysics, state-of-the-art computing, and multi-messenger observations to study the most extreme and mysterious environments in the Universe.

These bold investigations are preparing students in our academic programs, and early career scientists on postdoctoral fellowships, to make the breakthrough discoveries and technical innovations of their generation.

Program Requirements

Note: Although not a terminal Master's program, students may receive a Master's degree while studying for the Ph.D.
Full-time registration is required. The candidate must complete a required sequence of courses with a 3.0 average and pass the Ph.D. candidacy examinations.

Full-time registration is required. The candidate must complete a required sequence of courses with a 3.0 average, pass the Ph.D. candidacy examinations, submit and defend-successfully a thesis, and have the thesis submitted to a recognized journal.
GRE Requirements: Not Required
Physics GRE Requirements: Not Required
TOEFL Requirements: Required

Description of your department culture

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics is an active and engaged community. Numerous events and informal talks are held each week presenting current topics and emerging research that bring together students, faculty, scientists, and post-docs as an intellectual community. Events include colloquia, seminars, pizza lunch talks, cookie breaks, and a series of informal lunch discussions on recent news and papers in cosmology. Some of these events give students opportunities to present their own work in-progress. Graduate students are active in public outreach, through volunteer programs with neighborhood children and seniors, and connections to the Adler Planetarium. Many students are active in the greater Chicago astronomy community through participation in activities such as March for Science Chicago and Astronomy on Tap, a program of informal astronomy talks presented with colleagues from other Chicago institutions.