Graduate Study at Columbia

Located in New York City, Columbia University offers a graduate program in astronomy and astrophysics designed to educate creative and independent scientists with a primary focus on the development of research skills. Our community includes faculty, researchers, and students in Astrophysics and Astronomy at Columbia, Barnard College, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the American Museum of Natural History pursuing a wide range of theoretical, observational, and experimental research.

The graduate program for the Ph.D. 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 program is briefly summarized here but is described in detail in the Graduate Handbook

Research Projects

The primary goal of the 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.

Teaching and Outreach

Another important part of the Columbia Astronomy Department's graduate school education is the development of teaching skills. After a year of apprenticeship, graduate students in their second year may design and teach their own introductory astronomy lab for undergraduates.

Additionally, graduate students may choose to become involved with our outreach programs, or with education and exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History.


We are proud to report that many of our recently graduated students have gone on to earn prestigious postdoctoral fellowships (including the Hubble, Sagan, Chandra, and Einstein Fellowships) and that our alumni hold permanent positions at top research institutions world-wide.

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