Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

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:

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 4 graduate courses (half courses) and a research project. Astronomy students must complete Classical Electrodynamics [Astronomy 9620] and Fundamentals of Modern Astrophysics [Astronomy 9610] as part of their 4 course requirement. The remaining two 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 3 graduate courses (half courses) and a research project. These students must complete Electrodynamics [Astro 9620] and 2 additional courses discussed with and approved by the AC.

Thesis Based:

The Astronomy M.Sc. Thesis Based degree requires the completion of 4 graduate courses (half courses) and a research thesis. Astronomy students must complete Classical Electrodynamics [Astronomy 9620] and Fundamentals of Modern Astrophysics [Astronomy 9610] as part of their 4 course requirement. The remaining two 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 3 graduate courses (half courses) and a research thesis. These students must complete Electrodynamics [Astro 9620] and 2 additional courses discussed with and approved by the AC.

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 courses. 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 wave this requirement with the consent of the Astronomy Program Coordinator. 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 courses required to meet the Astronomy Ph.D. course requirement.

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

Direct transfer from the M.Sc. degree to the Ph.D. degree is possible. A student can request this transfer any time after 2 terms of M.Sc. study,
and the decision is made by the student's Advisory Committee. Superior performance in coursework and tangible evidence of research ability is required for the transfer to be approved. If either of these two criteria is questionable the Graduate Chair has the final decision about the transfer.

A student starting directly in one of the Ph.D. programs is given 12 terms for completing the degree, while a student who transfers from a M.Sc. program to the Ph.D. program is given 15 terms (all together) for the completion of the degree.

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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