Astronomy Program Requirements

All Astronomy graduate students, M.Sc. and Ph.D., are required to take the Astronomy Graduate Seminar Course, a Milestone, during each Fall and Winter term of the program. Each student needs to give one talk a year.

The Astronomy core graduate courses (half courses) are:

  • Fundamentals of Modern Astronomy [Astronomy 9610]
  • Classical Electrodynamics [Astronomy 9620]

MSc Candidates

The funded length of each program is 2 years, although many students complete it more quickly, and culminates in either a research thesis or a research project. There is no direct transfer to PhD option in the Astronomy program.

Report Based:

The Astronomy M.Sc. Report Based degree requires the completion of 3 graduate half course equivalents (HCE) and a research project. Astronomy students must complete Fundamentals of Modern Astrophysics [Astronomy 9610] as part of their 3 HCE requirement. The remaining courses are to be discussed with and approved by the Advisory Committee (AC). The Research Report is not defended by the student, but approved and assigned a grade by the AC.

The Accelerated version of this M.Sc. program requires the completion of 2 graduate half course equivalents (HCE), discussed with and approved by the AC, and a research project. 

Thesis Based:

The Astronomy M.Sc. Thesis Based degree requires the completion of 3 graduate half course equivalents (HCE) and a research thesis. Astronomy students must Fundamentals of Modern Astrophysics [Astronomy 9610] as part of their 3 HCE requirement. The remaining courses are to be discussed with and approved by the AC. The Research Thesis is defended by the student.

The Accelerated version of this M.Sc. program requires the completion of 2 graduate half course equivalents (HCE), discussed with and approved by the AC, and a research thesis. 

PhD Candidates

The funded length of each program is 4 years, and requires completion of a comprehensive examination and a research thesis. PhD candidates are expected to obtain marks of at least 85% in all their courses. 

The Astronomy Ph.D. program requires the course work for the Astronomy’s M.Sc. degree plus 2 additional half course equivalents (HCE). All Astronomy Ph.D. students must complete Astronomy 9610, Fundamentals of Modern Astrophysics, if they did not complete this course as part of their M.Sc. degree. In some exceptional cases, the student's Advisory Committee may waive this requirement with the consent of the GRaduate Chair. This requirement is also waved for students of the Accelerated M.Sc. program. While required, Astronomy 9610 does not count as one of the two half course equivalents required to meet the Astronomy Ph.D. course requirement.

All Astronomy Ph.D. Students must pass the 2 Component Astronomy Comprehensive Exam.

Note for Accelerated MSc in Astronomy

The Accelerated MSc in Astronomy requires a 4th yr honors research [P4999/A4999] with a final mark of 80% or higher and the following eligibility criteria with respect to undergraduate coursework. The student must obtain a sufficiently high final mark in a set of undergraduate courses equivalent to the following courses at Western: Astronomy 3302A/B (The Interstellar Medium); Astronomy 3303A/B (Galaxies); Astronomy
4101A/B (Stellar Astrophysics); Astronomy 4602A/B (Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology). The average of the final marks in these courses should be 80% or higher and a minimum grade of 70% in each individual course.

The Accelerated MSc. in Astronomy gives a head start to MSc. research with the Honors Research conducted with same supervisor as planned for MSc thesis. Students can work on their research in the summer immediately after the BSc (no tuition), if agreed upon by the supervisor. In this case, they will be hired as a summer undergraduate student and paid by their supervisor. These students should apply for a summer NSERC USRA or the
supervisor should apply for a pre-thesis award to cover some of the costs. These students have effectively 4 terms to fulfill the requirements.

For students, graduating with an Accelerated MSc Astronomy who like to continue to the PhD program at Western, the waiver given for the Accelerated MSc will also count as waiver for the considered courses towards the PhD course requirements.


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