Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Curriculum
MS Program Requirements
Students must earn a minimum of 32 credits in total, consisting of at least 18 course credits and at least 8 research credits. Students must also complete and defend a research thesis.
Required Core Courses *
Course Number

Course Title

Credits

OR

Mathematical Methods for Astrophysics
Statistical Methods for Astrophysics

3
3

Astronomical Observational Techniques

3


Radiative Processes

3


Astrophysical Dynamics

3

*In addition to the course courses students are required to complete 2 semesters of Graduate Seminar (counted towards research credit). Students may take either ASTP 610 or ASTP 611 to fulfill the core requirement.
Sample MS Program of Study
Year

Course#

Course Title

Credits

First Year

ASTP 610 OR

Astronomical Observational Techniques*
Astrophysical Dynamics*
Introduction to Relativity and Gravitation
Graduate Seminar I
Radiative Processes*
Mathematical Methods for the Astrophysical Sciences
Statistical Methods for Astrophysics
Stellar Structure and Atmospheres
Graduate Seminar II

3
3
3
1
3
3
3
1

Second Year

ASTP 790
ASTP 790

Galactic Astrophysics
Research and Thesis
Extragalactic Astrophysics
Research and Thesis

3
3
3
3

Program Total Credits

32

*The core courses ASTP 613, ASTP 615 and ASTP 617 will be offered annually. All other AST courses will be offered biannually.
Transfer to PhD
Students initially admitted to the MS program may transfer to the PhD by successfully completing the PhD Qualifying Examination. In such cases, students will typically select courses from one of the three PhD tracks described below.
PhD Program Requirements
Students must earn a minimum of 60 credits in total, consisting of at least 27 course credits and at least 24 research credits. The PhD Qualifying Exam must be passed before the end of year 2 and includes a written exam based on the common core and an oral exam based on a 2semester research project (minimum 6 research credits). Students must complete and defend a research dissertation.
Common Core
All Students are required to complete 2 semesters of Graduate Seminar (counted towards research credit) and 4 core courses:
Course Number

Course Title

Credits

OR

Mathematical Methods for Astrophysics
Statistical Methods for Astrophysics

3
3

Astronomical Observational Techniques

3


Radiative Processes

3


Astrophysical Dynamics

3

Students may take either ASTP610 or ASTP611 to fulfill the core requirement.
The core courses ASTP613, 615 and 617 will be offered annually. All other AST courses will be offered biannually.
PhD Program Tracks and Concentrations
The Astrophysical Sciences & Technology PhD program has 3 tracks.
Astrophysics Track
In addition to the core courses, a student would typically take the following:
Course #

Course Title

Stellar Structure and Atmospheres


Galactic Astrophysics


Extragalactic Astrophysics

In addition, the student must take at least 2 electives selected from the other AST courses, or appropriate courses offered by other RIT graduate programs.
Computational Astrophysics Track
In addition to the core courses, a student would typically take the following:
Course #

Course Title

Math, Methods for Astrophysics (as core)


Statistical Methods for Astrophysics


Computational Methods for Astrophysics

In addition, the student must take at least 3 electives selected from the other AST courses, or appropriate courses offered by other RIT graduate programs.
A student in this track may also pursue a concentration in General Relativity.
The required courses in this case are:
Course #

Course Title

Classical Electrodynamics I


Classical Electrodynamics II


Intro to Relativity & Gravitation


Advanced Relativity & Gravitation


And either


Math, Methods for Astrophysics (as core)


Computational Methods for Astrophysics


OR


Math, Methods for Astrophysics (as core)


Statistical Methods for Astrophysics




In addition, the student could take up to 3 electives selected from other AST courses, or appropriate courses offered by other RIT graduate programs.
Astronomical Instrumentation Track
In addition to the core courses, a student would typically take the following:
Principles of Solid State Imaging Arrays


Design and Fabrication of Solid State Camera


Testing of Focal Plane Arrays

In addition, the student must take at least 2 electives selected from other AST courses, or appropriate courses offered by the other RIT graduate programs.
AST Electives
ASTP613  Astronomical Observational Techniques and Instrumentation
ASTP615  Radiative Processes for Astrophysical Sciences
ASTP617  Astrophysical Dynamics
ASTP720  Computational Methods for Astrophysics
ASTP730  Stellar Structure & Atmospheres
ASTP740  Galactic Astrophysics
ASTP750  Extragalactic Astrophysics
ASTP760  Introduction to Relativity and Gravitation
ASTP835 High Energy Astrophysics
ASTP831  Stellar Evolution & Environments
ASTP841  The Interstellar Medium
ASTP851  Cosmology
ASTP861  Advanced Relativity and Gravitation
PHYS611  Classical Electrodynamics I
PHYS612  Classical Electrodynamics II
NonAST electives
Subject to approval, students may choose elective courses from many other RIT graduate programs. Some examples are listed below. There are many more courses that may be appropriate, but which are not listed here.
Imaging Science
COSIMGS628 Design and Fabrication of Solid State Camera
COSIMGS682 Digital Image Processing
COSIMGS737 Physical Optics
COSIMGS754 Pattern Recognition
COSIMGS766 Geometric Optics and Lens Design
COSIMGS661 Multiwavelength Astronomical Imaging
COSIMGS765 Performance Modeling and Characterization of Remote Sensing Systems
Mathematics
MATH605 Stochastic Processes
MATH612 Numerical Linear Algebra
MATH711 Advanced Methods in Scientific Computing
MATH712 Numberical Methods for PDE's
MATH731 Advanced Dynamical Systems
AST Course Descriptions
COSASTP601 Graduate Seminar I
This course is the first in a twosemester sequence intended to familiarize students with research activities, practices, and ethics in the university research environment and to introduce students to commonly used research tools. As part of the course, students are expected to attend research seminars sponsored by the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program and participate in a weekly journal club. The course also provides training in scientific writing and presentation skills. Credits earned in this course apply to research requirements. (Graduate standing in the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program.)
COSASTP602  Graduate Seminar II
This course is the second in a twosemester sequence intended to familiarize students with research activities, practices, and ethics in the university research environment and to introduce students to commonly used research tools. As part of the course, students are expected to attend research seminars sponsored by the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Program and participate in a weekly journal club. The course also provides training in scientific writing and presentation skills. Credits earned in this course apply to research requirements. (Graduate standing in the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program.)
COSASTP610  Mathematical Methods for the Astrophysical Sciences
This course is a standalone course on mathematical methods for astrophysics covering tensor algebra, group theory, complex analysis, differential equations, special functions, integral transforms, the calculus of variations, and chaos. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor)
COSASTP611  Statistical Methods for Astrophysics
This course provides an introduction to the statistical techniques used in astrophysics and other observational sciences, including parameter estimation, hypothesis testing, and statistical signal processing. An introduction is given to both Bayesian and frequentist approaches. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP613  Astronomical Observational Techniques and Instrumentation
This course will survey multiwavelength astronomical observing techniques and instrumentation. The design characteristics and function of telescopes, detectors, and instrumentation in use at the major ground based and space based observatories will be discussed as will common observing techniques such as imaging, photometry and spectroscopy. The principles of cosmic ray, neutrino, and gravitational wave astronomy will also be briefly reviewed. Students will plan and carry out a multiwavelength archival program on a topic of their choice. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP615  Radiative Processes for Astrophysical Sciences
This course will cover classical continuum radiation emission mechanisms that commonly occur in astrophysical environments. Topics will include properties of astrophysical radiation, radiative transfer, blackbody radiation, radiation from moving charges, Bremstrahlung, Synchrotron, and inverse Compton radiation. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP617  Astrophysical Dynamics
This course provides an introduction to advanced classical dynamics starting from an action principle, and its applications to astrophysical systems. Topics include Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, the twobody system, perturbation theory applied to Keplerian orbits, motion near black holes and the manybody problem. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP720  Computational Methods for Astrophysics
This course surveys the different ways that scientists use computers to address problems in astrophysics. The course will choose several common problems in astrophysics; for each one, it will provide an introduction to the problem, review the literature for recent examples, and illustrate the basic mathematical technique. In each of these segments, students will write their own code in an appropriate language. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP730  Stellar Structure & Atmospheres
An overview of the physical principles governing the internal structures and energy generation mechanisms of main sequence stars, with brief introductions to pre and postmain sequence stellar evolution. Topics covered include: observational aspects of main sequence stars, giants, and white dwarfs; stellar timescales and equations of state; static stellar structure; stellar energy generation and transport; simple stellar atmospheres. (Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor; corequisite ASTP615.)
COSASTP740  Galactic Astrophysics
This course will cover stellar and galactic dynamics with special application to the Milky Way galaxy. Topics will include theory of orbits; Jeans theorem and equilibrium of stellar systems; the virial theorem; the Jeans equations; gravitational instabilities; structure and kinematics of the Milky Way; properties of spiral and elliptical galaxies. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor; corequisite ASTP617.)
COSASTP750  Extragalactic Astrophysics
This course will cover objects in the universe beyond our own Milky Way galaxy, with an emphasis on the observational evidence. Topics will include properties of ordinary and active galaxies; galaxy clusters; the extragalactic distance scale; evidence for dark matter; cosmological models with and without lambda. (ASTP740 or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP760  Introduction to Relativity and Gravitation
This course is the first in a twocourse sequence that introduces Einstein’s theory of General Relativity as a tool in modern astrophysics. The course will cover various aspects of both Special and General Relativity, with applications to situations in which strong gravitational fields play a critical role, such as black holes and gravitational radiation. Topics include differential geometry, curved space time, gravitational waves, and the Schwarzschild black hole. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology or permission of instructor; Corequisite ASTP617, or permission of instructor)
COSASTP831  Stellar Evolution & Environments
A survey of contemporary topics in star formation and pre and postmain sequence stellar evolution, with emphasis on the physical processes governing stellar accretion, mass loss, and the effects of binary companions on these processes. (COSASTP730, or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP835  HighEnergy Astrophysics
This course will survey violent astrophysical phenomena including supernovae, compact stellar remnants, Xray binaries, gamma ray bursts, and supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. It will examine physical processes associated with the emission of highenergy radiation, production of highenergy particles, accretion discs around compact objects, and production and propagation of astrophysical jets. It will review current models for the sources of highenergy phenomena. (ASTP615 Radiative Processes for Astrophysical Sciences or permission of instructor)
COSASTP841  The Interstellar Medium
This course provides a detailed overview of the physical processes and properties of the interstellar medium in our Galaxy and other galaxies. This course explores the fundamental physical basis of the observed properties of lowdensity astrophysical gases observed throughout the universe. Topics may include HII regions, planetary nebulae, HI clouds, molecular clouds, photodissociation regions, supernova remnants, and multiphase models of the interstellar medium. (COSASTP615, or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP851  Cosmology
This course will cover the evolution of the universe from the big bang to the present, with an emphasis on the synergy between theory and observations. Topics will fall under three general headings: classical and relativistic cosmology, the early universe, and structure formation. (Prerequisites: COSASTP617 or permission of instructor; Corequisites: COSASTP750, or permission of instructor.)
COSASTP861 Advanced Relativity and Gravitation
This course is the second in a twocourse sequence that introduces Einstein’s theory of General Relativity as a tool in modern astrophysics. The course will cover various aspects of General Relativity, with applications to situations in which strong gravitational fields play a critical role, such as black holes and gravitational radiation. Topics include advanced differential geometry, generic black holes, energy production in blackhole physics, blackhole dynamics, introductory cosmology, and methods for solving the Einstein equations. (Prerequisite: COSASTP760; corequisites COSPHYS612, COSASTP610)
COSPHYS611 – Classical Electrodynamics I
This course is a systematic treatment of electro and magnetostatics, charges, currents, fields and potentials, dielectrics and magnetic materials, Maxwell’s equations and electromagnetic waves. Field theory is treated in terms of scalar and vector potentials. Wave solutions of Maxwell’s equations, the behavior of electromagnetic waves at interfaces, guided electromagnetic waves, and simple radiating systems will be covered. (COSPHYS412 or equivalent)
COSPHYS612 – Classical Electrodynamics II
This course is an advanced treatment of electrodynamics and radiation. Classical scattering theory including Mie scattering, Rayleigh scattering, and the Born approximation will be covered. Relativistic electrodynamics will be applied to charged particles in electromagnetic fields and magnetohydrodynamics. (COSPHYS611)
COSIMGS728 Design and Fabrication of Solid State Camera
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with handson experience in building a CCD camera. The course provides the basics of CCD operation including an overview, CCD clocking, analog output circuitry, cooling, and evaluation criteria. (Graduate status in Imaging Science or by permission of instructor)
COSIMGS639 Principles of Solid State Imaging Arrays
This course covers the basics of solid state physics, electrical engineering, linear systems and imaging needed to understand modern focal plane array design and use. The course emphasizes knowledge of the working of CMOS and infrared arrays. (Graduate status in Imaging Science or by permission of instructor)
COSIMGS742 Testing of Focal Plane Arrays
This course is an introduction to the techniques used for the testing of solid state imaging detectors such as CCDs, CMOS and Infrared Arrays. Focal plane array users in industry, government and university need to ensure that key operating parameters for such devices either fall within an operating range or that the limitation to the performance is understood. This is a handson course where the students will measure the performance parameters of a particular camera in detail. (Graduate status in Imaging Science or by permission of instructor)