Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree
 RIT /
 College of Science /
 Academics /
 Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D.
An astrophysics Ph.D. centered on phenomena beyond the Earth and on the development of the technologies that will enable the next major strides in the field.
Overview for Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D.
Why Study Astrophysical Sciences at RIT
STEMOPT Visa Eligible: The STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows fulltime, oncampus international students on an F1 student visa to stay and work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation.
Unique Interdisciplinary Approach: This multidisciplinary program is administered by the School of Physics and Astronomy, in collaboration with the School of Mathematics and Statistics and the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, setting it apart from conventional astrophysics graduate programs at traditional research universities.
Tailored to your Interests: The program offers tracks in astrophysics (including observational and theoretical astrophysics), computational and gravitational astrophysics (including numerical relativity, gravitational wave astronomy), and astronomical technology (including detector and instrumentation research and development).
Participate in Research: Students may participate in one of three research centers associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy: the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, the Center for Detectors or the Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics.
Industry Opportunities: Graduates of the program have secured roles at the Dudley Observatory at the Museum of Innovation & Science, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, in higher education institutions, among others.
There has never been a more exciting time to study the universe beyond the confines of the Earth. A new generation of advanced groundbased and spaceborne telescopes and enormous increases in computing power are enabling a golden age of astrophysics. The doctoral program in astrophysical sciences and technology focuses on the underlying physics of phenomena beyond the Earth and on the development of the technologies, instruments, data analysis, and modeling techniques that will enable the next major strides in the field. The program's multidisciplinary emphasis sets it apart from conventional astrophysics graduate programs at traditional research universities.
The program offers tracks in astrophysics (including observational and theoretical astrophysics), computational and gravitational astrophysics (including numerical relativity, gravitational wave astronomy), and astronomical technology (including detector and instrumentation research and development). Students can pursue research interests in a wide range of topics, including design and development of novel detectors, multiwavelength studies of protostars, active galactic nuclei and galaxy clusters, gravitational wave data analysis, and theoretical and computational modeling of astrophysical systems including galaxies and compact objects such as binary black holes. Depending on research interests, students may participate in one of three research centers: the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (Video), the Center for Detectors, or the Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics.
Plan of Study
In the astrophysics Ph.D., students complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of study, consisting of at least 24 credit hours of course work and at least 24 credit hours of research. Students may choose to follow one of three tracks: astrophysics, astroinformatics and computational astrophysics (with the option of a concentration in general relativity), or astronomical instrumentation. All students must complete four core courses with grades of B or better, as well as two semesters of a graduate seminar. Core course grades below B must be remediated by taking and passing a comprehensive exam on the core course subject matter prior to receiving the doctoral degree. The remaining course credits are made up from specialty track courses and electives. Students must pass a qualifying examination, which consists of completing and defending a master'slevel research project, prior to embarking on the dissertation research project.
Electives
Electives include additional courses in astrophysics and a wide selection of courses offered in other RIT graduate programs (e.g., imaging science, computer science, engineering), including detector development, digital image processing, computational techniques, optics, and entrepreneurship, among others.
Ph.D. qualification requirements: Master'slevel research project
During the first year of the program, most doctoral candidates begin a master'slevel research project under the guidance of a faculty member. The project gains momentum during the second year after the core courses have been completed. The master'slevel research topic may be different from the eventual doctoral dissertation topic, and the supervising faculty member will not necessarily serve as the dissertation research advisor.
The doctoral qualification requirements consist of a combination of a publicationquality master'slevel project report, which may be in the form of a thesis (if the student so chooses) and an oral presentation and defense of the master'slevel project. This qualification process, which must be completed by the beginning of the third year of fulltime study or its equivalent, is designed to ensure the student has the necessary background knowledge and intellectual skills to carry out doctorallevel research in the subject areas of astrophysical sciences and technology. A directorapproved committee consisting of the student's master'slevel project research advisor and two additional faculty members will assess the student's project report and defense.
Dissertation research advisor
After passing the qualifying examination, students are guided by a dissertation research advisor who is approved by the program director. The choice of advisor is based on the student's research interests, faculty research interests, and available research funding.
Research committee
After passing the qualifying examination, a dissertation committee is appointed for the duration of the student's tenure in the program. The committee chair is appointed by the dean of graduate education and must be a faculty member in a program other than astrophysical sciences and technology. The committee chair acts as the institutional representative in the final dissertation examination. The committee comprises at least four members and in addition to the chair, must also include the student's dissertation research advisor and at least one other member of the program's faculty. The fourth member may be an RIT faculty member, a professional affiliated in industry, or a representative from another institution. The program director must approve committee members who are not RIT faculty.
Ph.D. proposal review (candidacy exam)
Within six months of the appointment of the dissertation committee, students must prepare a Ph.D. research project proposal and present it to the committee for review. The student provides a written research proposal and gives an oral presentation to the committee, who provides constructive feedback on the project plan. The review must take place at least six months prior to the dissertation defense.
Annual review
Each fall, students provide an annual report in the form of an oral presentation, which summarizes progress made during the preceding year. The program director also monitors student's progress toward meeting the requirements for either the qualifying examination (during the first two years), or the Ph.D. (after passing the qualifying examination). Students may be interviewed, as necessary, to explore any concerns that emerge during the review and to discuss remedial actions.
Final examination of the dissertation
Once the dissertation is written, distributed to the dissertation committee, and the committee agrees to administer the final examination, the doctoral candidate may schedule the final examination. The candidate must distribute a copy of the dissertation to the committee and make the dissertation available to interested faculty at least four weeks prior to the dissertation defense.
The final examination of the dissertation is open to the public and is primarily a defense of the dissertation research. The examination consists of an oral presentation by the student, followed by questions from the audience. The dissertation committee privately questions the candidate following the presentation. The dissertation committee caucuses immediately following the examination and thereafter notifies the candidate and the program director of the results.
Residency
All students in the program must spend at least one year (summer term excluded) in residence as fulltime students to be eligible to receive the doctorate degree.
Time Limitations
All doctoral candidates must maintain continuous enrollment during the research phase of the program. Normally, fulltime students complete the course of study in approximately four to five years. A total of seven years is allowed to complete the requirements after first attempting the qualifying examination.
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Research
The astrophysical sciences and technology program offers students a wide range of research opportunities spanning observational and theoretical astrophysics, computational astrophysics, general relativity and gravitational wave astronomy, and the design and development of advanced detectors and instrumentation for astronomy. RIT hosts a vibrant astronomy and astrophysics research community of more than 60 faculty, postdocs, research fellows, and graduate students who participate in three designated research centers:
 The Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation
 The Center for Detectors
 Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics
Faculty and students frequently obtain data from space observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra Xray Observatory, the Herschel Space Observatory, and various groundbased observatories such as the Gemini Observatory, twin 8.1meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile, the W. M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii, and the Very Large Array radio telescope facility in New Mexico. RIT is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which analyzes the data taken by the Laser Interferometer GravitationalWave Observatory, and a member of the Legacy Survey of Space Time Corporation, which will operate an 8.4 m telescope at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, to conduct a 10year survey of the Southern skies.
Computing facilities include the GravitySimulator supercomputer, dedicated to Nbody simulations of galactic nuclei and stellar clusters and the NewHorizons computer cluster, for numerical relativity and relativistic hydrodynamics simulations. Funding has recently been obtained to acquire an even more powerful 600core cluster (BlueSky). Researchers at RIT's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation also have access to national supercomputing facilities, such as the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign.
RIT’s Center for Detectors operates extensive research laboratory facilities:
 Rochester Imaging Detector Laboratory
 Lobozzo Photonics Lab,
 Integrated Photonics Lab,
 Experimental Cosmology Lab,
 Suborbital Astrophysics Lab,
 Laboratory for Advanced Instrumentation Research,
 ExpitaxiallyIntegrated Nanoscale Systems Lab,
 Quantum Imaging and Information Lab, and the
 Electrical and Optical Characterization Lab.
The Center also has access to stateoftheart simulation software, and machining and electronic assembly facilites, such as the Semiconductor & Microsystems Fabrication Lab and the Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly.
Faculty involved in the astrophysical sciences and technology program regularly attract substantial external research funding from national and state agencies, including funding support from NASA, National Science Foundation, NYSTAR (Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation), amounting to over $12 million in the last four years.
Current research interests include:
 Strongfield gravitational dynamics of interacting compact objects such as black holes and neutron stars
 Magnetohydrodynamical simulations of the accretion disks and other astrophysical environments around supermassive blackholes
 Detection of gravitational wave signatures of binary black holes and/or neutron stars in close binary orbits
 Single Photon Counting Detectors for NASA Astronomy Missions
 New Infrared Detectors for Astrophysics
 Microgrid polarizer arrays
 Young stars and protoplanetary disks
 Chandra Planetary Nebula Survey
 Feeding and Feedback in Active Galactic Nebulae (AGN)
 AGN feedback in galaxy clusters
 Supermassive black holes in low redshift elliptical galaxies
 Reverberation mapping the circumnuclear torus in AGN
 Stellar dynamics and supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei
 Hydrodynamical signatures of darkmatter dominated satellite galaxies
Careers and Experiential Learning
National Labs Career Events and Recruiting
The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education offers National Labs and federallyfunded Research Centers from all research areas and sponsoring agencies a variety of options to connect with and recruit students. Students connect with employer partners to gather information on their laboratories and explore coop, internship, research, and fulltime opportunities. These national labs focus on scientific discovery, clean energy development, national security, technology advancements, and more. Recruiting events include our universitywide Fall Career Fair, oncampus and virtual interviews, information sessions, 1:1 networking with lab representatives, and a National Labs Resume Book available to all labs.
Featured Work and Profiles
Exploring the Potential of Virtual Reality for Analyzing Astronomical Data
Ryan Butler (astrophysical science and technology)
Ryan Butler, a Ph.D. candidate in the Astrophysical Science and Technology program at RIT, is exploring the use of virtual reality to analyze astronomical data.
Unfolding the Universe
RIT astrophysicist, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, puts students first while researching the origins of thousands of galaxies.
Navigating Research Policy with Senior Research Officers
Kevin Cooke ’19 found his calling at the intersection of science and policy while pursuing his Ph.D. at RIT. Now, he’s the Director of Research Policy at APLU.
Astrophysics Ph.D. Research: How Galaxies Form and Evolve
Brittany Vanderhoof (astrophysical sciences and technology)
Ph.D. student Brittany Vanderhoof chose RIT for the diverse range of research and accessibility of professors. Now she’s growing as an astrophysicist and researching how galaxies form and evolve.
AST Program Grad is now Researching Stars at the Smithsonian
Rodolfo (Rudy) Montez Jr. ’10 (astrophysical and technology)
RIT Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D. graduate Rodolfo (Rudy) Montez Jr. ’10 is now an Astrophysicist researching stars at the Center for Astrophysics  Harvard & Smithsonian.
Related News

April 2, 2024
Scientists release new insight about Southern Ring Nebula
Planetary nebulae have been studied for centuries, but astronomers are getting new looks and a better understanding of the structures and compositions of these gaseous remnants of dying stars thanks to the ability to study objects at multiple wavelengths and dimensions.

January 24, 2024
RIT leading NASAfunded supermassive black hole research
RIT scientists will be the lead researchers on a $1.8 million NASA grant to study electromagnetic signals from merging supermassive black holes.

July 25, 2023
RIT professor coauthors paper on new planetary formation findings
Joel Kastner, a professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy, and a team of researchers with the European Southern Observatory have discovered new evidence of how planets as massive as Jupiter can form.
Curriculum for 20242025 for Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D.
Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

First Year  
ASTP601  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Seminar 3 (Fall). 
1 
ASTP602  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. (Prerequisites: ASTP601 or equivalent course. This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Seminar 3 (Spring). 
1 
ASTP608  Fundamental Astrophysics I This course will provide a basic introduction to modern astrophysics, including the topics of radiation fields and matter, star formation and evolution, and stellar structure. This course will provide the physical background needed to interpret both observations and theoretical models in stellar astrophysics and prepare students for more advanced topics and research in astrophysics. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP609  Fundamental Astrophysics II This course will provide a basic introduction to modern astrophysics, following on from Fundamental Astrophysics I. Topics will include basic celestial mechanics and galactic dynamics, the Milky Way and other galaxies, the interstellar medium, active galactic nuclei, galaxy formation and evolution, and an introduction to cosmology. This course will provide the physical background needed to interpret both observations and theoretical models in galactic and extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology and prepare students for more advanced topics and research in astrophysics. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP790  Research & Thesis Masterslevel research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer). 
4 
Specialty Track Courses 
6  
Second Year  
Choose from the following:  6 

Specialty Track Courses 

Electives 

Specialty Track Courses 
6  
ASTP790  Research & Thesis Masterslevel research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer). 
6 
Third Year  
ASTP890  Research & Thesis Dissertation research by the candidate for an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer). 
8 
Fourth Year  
ASTP890  Research & Thesis Dissertation research by the candidate for an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer). 
8 
Fifth Year  
ASTP890  Research & Thesis Dissertation research by the candidate for an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer). 
8 
Total Semester Credit Hours  60 
Specialty Tracks
Astroinformatics
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP612  Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics including modeling, data reduction, analysis, and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Special Functions, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, and Frequency Domain Analysis. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP711  Advanced Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This is an advanced course in statistical inference and data analysis for the astrophysical sciences. Topics include Bayesian and frequentist methods of parameter estimation, model selection and evaluation using astrophysical data. Specific applications, such parameter estimation from gravitational wave signals, or analysis of large data sets from imaging, spectroscopic or time domain surveys will be discussed. Computational methods including Markov Chain Monte Carlo, with other topics such as machine learning, and time series analysis included at the discretion of the instructor. (Prerequisite: ASTP610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
PHYS616  Data Analysis for the Physical Sciences This course is an introductory graduatelevel overview of techniques in and applications of data analysis in physics and related fields. Topics examined include noise and probability, model fitting and hypothesis testing, signal processing, Fourier methods, and advanced computation and simulation techniques. Applications are drawn from across the contemporary physical sciences, including soft matter, solid state, biophysics, and materials science. The subjects covered also have applications for students of astronomy, signal processing, scientific computation, and others. (Prerequisites: PHYS316 or equivalent course or Graduate standing.) Lecture 3 (Biannual). 
3 
Choose one of the following:  3 

ASTP720  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 

MATH751  High Performance Computing for Mathematical Modeling Students in this course will study highperformance computing as a tool for solving problems related to mathematical modeling. Two primary objectives will be to gain experience in understanding the advantages and limitations of different hardware and software options for a diverse array of modeling approaches and to develop a library of example codes. The course will include extensive handson computational (programming) assignments. Students will be expected to have a prior understanding of basic techniques for solving mathematical problems numerically. (Prerequisite: MATH602 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 

Electives 
9 
Gravitational Wave Astronomy
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP612  Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics including modeling, data reduction, analysis, and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Special Functions, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, and Frequency Domain Analysis. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP613  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP660  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 spacetime, gravitational waves, and the Schwarzschild black hole. The target audience is graduate students in the astrophysics, physics, and mathematical modeling (geometry and gravitation) programs. (This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS, ASTPPHD, MATHMLPHD and PHYSMS programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP730  Stellar Atmospheres & Evolution An overview of the physical principles and observational phenomenology describing stellar atmospheres and stellar evolution. Topics covered include: atmospheric temperature structure and line formation; atmosphere models and spectral type determination; observational (spectral) diagnostics of stellar masses, abundances, ages and evolutionary states; and 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. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
Choose one of the following:  3 

ASTP740  Galactic Astrophysics This course surveys our current knowledge of the Milky Way galaxy, and the processes that shape its structure and evolution. Topics will include the structure and kinematics of the Milky Way; stellar populations; theory of orbits; Jean’s theorem and equilibrium of stellar systems; the virial theorem; the Jean’s equations; gravitational instabilities; tidal interactions; the central black hole; the Local Group and chemical evolution. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 

ASTP750  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 the cosmological constant (Lambda). (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 

Elective 
3 
Instrumentation
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP613  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
PHYS616  Data Analysis for the Physical Sciences This course is an introductory graduatelevel overview of techniques in and applications of data analysis in physics and related fields. Topics examined include noise and probability, model fitting and hypothesis testing, signal processing, Fourier methods, and advanced computation and simulation techniques. Applications are drawn from across the contemporary physical sciences, including soft matter, solid state, biophysics, and materials science. The subjects covered also have applications for students of astronomy, signal processing, scientific computation, and others. (Prerequisites: PHYS316 or equivalent course or Graduate standing.) Lecture 3 (Biannual). 
3 
IMGS616  Fourier Methods for Imaging This course develops the mathematical methods required to describe continuous and discrete linear systems, with special emphasis on tasks required in the analysis or synthesis of imaging systems. The classification of systems as linear/nonlinear and shift variant/invariant, development and use of the convolution integral, Fourier methods as applied to the analysis of linear systems. The physical meaning and interpretation of transform methods are emphasized. (This class is restricted to graduate students in the IMGSMS or IMGSPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
Electives 
9 
Numerical Relativity
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP612  Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics including modeling, data reduction, analysis, and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Special Functions, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, and Frequency Domain Analysis. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP618  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics I This course will provide students with an indepth theoretical background on those astrophysical phenomena where matter and electromagnetic fields play a major role. This includes stellar cores, relativistic plasmas, accretion physics, and jet production. Topics will include elements of electromagnetism, classical and relativistic fluids, magnetohydrodynamics, and radiation. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP619  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics II This course will provide students with the indepth background on Classical, Statistical, and Nuclear physics required for modeling many astrophysical systems. Particular attention is paid to topics related to the physics of stellar remnants (e.g., white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes) and the physics of compact object mergers. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 and ASTP618 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP660  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 spacetime, gravitational waves, and the Schwarzschild black hole. The target audience is graduate students in the astrophysics, physics, and mathematical modeling (geometry and gravitation) programs. (This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS, ASTPPHD, MATHMLPHD and PHYSMS programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP861  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, neutron stars, and methods for solving the Einstein equations. The target audience is graduate students in the astrophysics, physics, and mathematical modeling (geometry and gravitation) programs. (Prerequisite: ASTP660 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
Choose one of the following:  3 

ASTP720  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 

MATH751  High Performance Computing for Mathematical Modeling Students in this course will study highperformance computing as a tool for solving problems related to mathematical modeling. Two primary objectives will be to gain experience in understanding the advantages and limitations of different hardware and software options for a diverse array of modeling approaches and to develop a library of example codes. The course will include extensive handson computational (programming) assignments. Students will be expected to have a prior understanding of basic techniques for solving mathematical problems numerically. (Prerequisite: MATH602 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 

Optional Electives 
3 
Observational Astrophysics
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP613  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP730  Stellar Atmospheres & Evolution An overview of the physical principles and observational phenomenology describing stellar atmospheres and stellar evolution. Topics covered include: atmospheric temperature structure and line formation; atmosphere models and spectral type determination; observational (spectral) diagnostics of stellar masses, abundances, ages and evolutionary states; and 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. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP740  Galactic Astrophysics This course surveys our current knowledge of the Milky Way galaxy, and the processes that shape its structure and evolution. Topics will include the structure and kinematics of the Milky Way; stellar populations; theory of orbits; Jean’s theorem and equilibrium of stellar systems; the virial theorem; the Jean’s equations; gravitational instabilities; tidal interactions; the central black hole; the Local Group and chemical evolution. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP750  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 the cosmological constant (Lambda). (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
Electives 
6 
Theoretical Astrophysics
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP612  Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics including modeling, data reduction, analysis, and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Special Functions, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, and Frequency Domain Analysis. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP618  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics I This course will provide students with an indepth theoretical background on those astrophysical phenomena where matter and electromagnetic fields play a major role. This includes stellar cores, relativistic plasmas, accretion physics, and jet production. Topics will include elements of electromagnetism, classical and relativistic fluids, magnetohydrodynamics, and radiation. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP619  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics II This course will provide students with the indepth background on Classical, Statistical, and Nuclear physics required for modeling many astrophysical systems. Particular attention is paid to topics related to the physics of stellar remnants (e.g., white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes) and the physics of compact object mergers. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 and ASTP618 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP851  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. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
Electives 
6 
Electives
Course  Sem. Cr. Hrs.  

ASTP612  Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the applied mathematical and statistical tools used frequently in astrophysics including modeling, data reduction, analysis, and computational astrophysics. Topics will include Special Functions, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, and Frequency Domain Analysis. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP613  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP618  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics I This course will provide students with an indepth theoretical background on those astrophysical phenomena where matter and electromagnetic fields play a major role. This includes stellar cores, relativistic plasmas, accretion physics, and jet production. Topics will include elements of electromagnetism, classical and relativistic fluids, magnetohydrodynamics, and radiation. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP619  Fundamentals of Theoretical Astrophysics II This course will provide students with the indepth background on Classical, Statistical, and Nuclear physics required for modeling many astrophysical systems. Particular attention is paid to topics related to the physics of stellar remnants (e.g., white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes) and the physics of compact object mergers. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 and ASTP618 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP660  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 spacetime, gravitational waves, and the Schwarzschild black hole. The target audience is graduate students in the astrophysics, physics, and mathematical modeling (geometry and gravitation) programs. (This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS, ASTPPHD, MATHMLPHD and PHYSMS programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP711  Advanced Statistical Methods for Astrophysics This is an advanced course in statistical inference and data analysis for the astrophysical sciences. Topics include Bayesian and frequentist methods of parameter estimation, model selection and evaluation using astrophysical data. Specific applications, such parameter estimation from gravitational wave signals, or analysis of large data sets from imaging, spectroscopic or time domain surveys will be discussed. Computational methods including Markov Chain Monte Carlo, with other topics such as machine learning, and time series analysis included at the discretion of the instructor. (Prerequisite: ASTP610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP720  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. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP730  Stellar Atmospheres & Evolution An overview of the physical principles and observational phenomenology describing stellar atmospheres and stellar evolution. Topics covered include: atmospheric temperature structure and line formation; atmosphere models and spectral type determination; observational (spectral) diagnostics of stellar masses, abundances, ages and evolutionary states; and 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. (Prerequisites: ASTP608 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP740  Galactic Astrophysics This course surveys our current knowledge of the Milky Way galaxy, and the processes that shape its structure and evolution. Topics will include the structure and kinematics of the Milky Way; stellar populations; theory of orbits; Jean’s theorem and equilibrium of stellar systems; the virial theorem; the Jean’s equations; gravitational instabilities; tidal interactions; the central black hole; the Local Group and chemical evolution. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP750  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 the cosmological constant (Lambda). (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP835  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. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP841  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. The 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. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
ASTP851  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. (Prerequisite: ASTP609 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
ASTP861  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, neutron stars, and methods for solving the Einstein equations. The target audience is graduate students in the astrophysics, physics, and mathematical modeling (geometry and gravitation) programs. (Prerequisite: ASTP660 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
EEEE610  Analog Electronics Design This is a foundation course in analog integrated circuit design and is a prerequisite for the graduate courses in RF & mixedsignal IC design (EEEE726 and EEEE730). The course covers the following topics: (1) Review of CMOS technology, MOSFET models and Frequency Response (2) Singlestage amplifiers (3) Current mirrors and biasing (4) Current and voltage references (5) Differential amplifiers (6) Cascoding (7) Feedback and Stability (8) OTAs (9) Matching and layout techniques (10) Multistage opamps (11) Noise Analysis (12) Linearity in analog circuits (13) Switchedcap circuits. (Prerequisites: EEEE480 or equivalent course or graduate standing in EEEEMS.) Lab 2, Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
IMGS628  Design and Fabrication of Solid State Cameras 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. (This course is restricted to students with graduate standing in the College of Science or the Kate Gleason College of Engineering or Graduate Computing and Information Sciences.) Lab 6, Lecture 1 (Fall). 
3 
IMGS639  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. (This course is restricted to students with graduate standing in the College of Science or the Kate Gleason College of Engineering or Graduate Computing and Information Sciences.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
IMGS642  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. (This course is restricted to students with graduate standing in the College of Science or the Kate Gleason College of Engineering or Graduate Computing and Information Sciences.) Lab 6, Lecture 1 (Spring). 
3 
MATH602  Numerical Analysis I This course covers numerical techniques for the solution of nonlinear equations, interpolation, differentiation, integration, and matrix algebra. (Prerequisites: MATH411 or equivalent course and graduate standing.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
MATH751  Highperformance Computing for Mathematical Modeling Students in this course will study highperformance computing as a tool for solving problems related to mathematical modeling. Two primary objectives will be to gain experience in understanding the advantages and limitations of different hardware and software options for a diverse array of modeling approaches and to develop a library of example codes. The course will include extensive handson computational (programming) assignments. Students will be expected to have a prior understanding of basic techniques for solving mathematical problems numerically. (Prerequisite: MATH602 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
PHYS611  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. (Prerequisites: PHYS412 or equivalent course or Graduate standing.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
PHYS612  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. (Prerequisites: PHYS611 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring). 
3 
PHYS614  Quantum Theory This course is a graduate level introduction to the modern formulation of quantum mechanics. Topics include Hilbert space, Dirac notation, quantum dynamics, Feynman’s formulation, representation theory, angular momentum, identical particles, approximation methods including timeindependent and timedependent perturbation theory. The course will emphasize the underlying algebraic structure of the theory with an emphasis on current applications. (Prerequisites: This course is restricted to students in the PHYSMS, ASTPMS and ASTPPHD programs.) Lecture 3 (Fall). 
3 
Admissions and Financial Aid
This program is available oncampus only.
Offered  Admit Term(s)  Application Deadline  STEM Designated 

Full‑time  Fall  January 15 priority deadline, rolling thereafter  Yes 
Fulltime study is 9+ semester credit hours. International students requiring a visa to study at the RIT Rochester campus must study full‑time.
Application Details
To be considered for admission to the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D. program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
 Complete an online graduate application.
 Submit copies of official transcript(s) (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work, including any transfer credit earned.
 Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
 A recommended minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
 Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
 Submit a statement of purpose for research which will allow the Admissions Committee to learn the most about you as a prospective researcher.
 Submit two letters of recommendation.
 Entrance exam requirements: None
 Writing samples are optional.
 Submit English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic), if required. Details are below.
English Language Test Scores
International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.
TOEFL  IELTS  PTE Academic 

79  6.5  56 
International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced subscores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.
How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application
Cost and Financial Aid
An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Ph.D. students typically receive full tuition and an RIT Graduate Assistantship that will consist of a research assistantship (stipend) or a teaching assistantship (salary).
Contact
School of Physics and Astronomy