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FAQ - Prospective Students

FAQ for Prospective Students
Q: How does this differ from a typical astronomy program?
A:  AST is a student-centered multi-disciplinary program, with flexibility to switch tracks in the PhD program, before the end of year 2.  It is also possible to transfer from the MS to the PhD. Curriculm page outlines the courses & sequences
Q: How big are graduate classes?
A: ~3-15 students
Q: On average, how many students does the program accept each year?
A: ~3-6 students
Q: What is the average course load a semester?
A: ~2-3 classes plus graduate seminar in year 1

Q: Is there someone to advise me in my first year?
A: All new students are assigned a mentor in their first year until they find a research advisor.

Q: How will I be paid the first year?
A: First year PhD students receive stipends, usually in the form of graduate teaching assistantships.

Q: What kind of transportation is available throughout campus and the city?
A: RIT has a shuttle system that services all university-owned housing. As the housing is mostly on the fringes of campus, and off campus in some cases, this service is meant to provide a convenient way for students to get to the center of campus. In addition, some of the shuttle routes have stops off-campus, such as at the nearby Marketplace Mall.  Note that RIT shuttle schedules are different during the week and on weekends, and also vary based on time of day. The Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority (RGRTA) also provides routes that stop on campus through their Regional Transit Service (RTS). These routes also service Marketplace Mall, as well as Southtown Plaza, Wal-Mart, and Target.  For more information and links to maps and schedules, go to the RIT Transportation page or the RGRTA RTS page
Q: Is there a physics graduate program at RIT?
A: Not yet, but some graduate level physics courses are offered. AST is an interdisciplinary program focused around astronomy. A Master’s program in Physics is in it's second year.  A PhD program for Physics is currently in development. 
Q: How many students are at RIT?
A: Fall 2012 Enrollment 17,950 Undergraduate 15,085 Graduate 2,865 Male 10,972 Female 5,356
Q: As a graduate student, what benefits do I have?
A: RIT will pay for your health insurance and you may get paid as a teaching assistant and/or research assistant. Funding is also available for travel.
Q: How long does it take to complete a Ph.D.?
A: Normally, full-time students complete the course of study for the doctorate in approximately four to five years. A total of seven years is allowed to complete the requirements after first attempting the qualifying examination.
Q: Are there organized social events for the program?
A: Yes, there are weekly colloquia (jointly with the University of Rochester), lunch talks, a weekly journal club and coffee hours.
Q: Will I have a space to work?
A: All graduate students are provided a desk in an office to work at.
Q: Do I need a Bachelor’s degree in astrophysics to apply to this program?
A: An applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree in physical science, mathematics, computer science, or engineering at a regionally accredited college or university (for students with a bachelor's degree in another area or those lacking adequate academic preparation, bridge and foundation course work may be necessary prior to full admission).
Q: What’s the cost of living in Rochester?
A: Check out websites likes this:
Q: What is there to do in Rochester, NY?
A: Please visit these websites for more information: Visit Rochester, Rochester Events & RocWiki Festival page. 
Monroe County has 15 large parks with walking, hiking & biking trails. Please visit the Monroe County Parks or NY State Parks for more information.