Astronomy Program Requirement

All MSc students and PhD students in their first two years of study must enroll in and successfully complete the fall and winter terms of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Seminar.

MSc Candidates

The funded length of the 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 the Ph.D. option in the Astronomy program.

Course Requirements:

The Astronomy M.Sc. degree requires the completion of 3.0 HCE (half-course equivalents) which must include the 1.0 HCE course Astronomy 9610: Fundamentals of Modern Astronomy there are no exceptions to the MSc requirement of Astronomy 9610. Of the remaining 2.0 HCE, at least 1.0 of these HCE must come from courses offered by the Physics and Astronomy Department, and are to be discussed with and approved by the Advisory Committee (AC).

*Note that most astronomy graduate course offerings are quarter courses, each of which counts as 0.5 HCE.

The Research Thesis is defended by the student, with a committee and public lecture.The Research Report is not defended by the student but approved and assigned a grade by the AC.

 Astronomy MSc Research Report Guidelines

Ph.D. Candidates

The funded length of each program is 4 years and requires completion of a comprehensive examination and a research thesis. Ph.D. 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 an additional 2.0 HCE; at least 1.0 HCE must come from courses offered by the Physics and Astronomy Department. 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 Astronomy Program Coordinator. This requirement is also waived for students of the Accelerated M.Sc. program. While required, Astronomy 9610 does not count as one of the two HCEs 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-year 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 the same supervisor as planned for the 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 Ph.D. program at Western, the waiver is given for the Accelerated MSc will also count as a waiver for the considered courses towards the Ph.D. course requirements.