From the intricate gravitational dance of objects in our Solar System, to the hidden songs of the Big Bang's echoes encoded in the cosmic microwave background, UBC astronomers and astrophysicists study our universe at all scales and use facilities covering all wavelengths. Graduate students in the department have access to expert training in the entire range of astronomical disciplines.
UBC graduate students have consistently garnered top national prizes for their oral and poster presentations at the Canadian Astronomical Society meeting. UBC graduate students travel widely to international astronomical meetings and to telescope facilities around the world. Students will find an active and diverse academic and social environment in our program; we are committed to training students in the skills and techniques to become world-class researchers.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UBC offers graduate degrees in
where a common path is to take two years in an M.Sc. degree and then three years for the subsequent Ph.D. degree. All of these degrees require a written research thesis; however, both M.Sc. degrees allow the option to transfer into the Ph.D. degree after one year of UBC residency in the M.Sc. degree and completion of 12 credits of 500-level coursework (with a >85% average).
Several students in the department are pursuing research in astronomy and astrophysics while enrolled in the Physics degrees (the only difference is the required coursework). Many of the students in our Astronomy degrees enter with pure physics backgrounds.
Students in the M.Sc. program have a research supervisor. Those in the PhD program assemble a full supervisory committee and must pass a qualifying exam.
M.Sc. and PhD application procedures
Information regarding application procedures to all four of the above degrees can be found at the department's graduate program web page. We highly encourage students to apply as soon as they have their grades from the first half of their final year in their current (usually undergraduate) program; usually one should apply in January of the year they wish to start their degree (in September).
Admitted students have the assurance of guaranteed financial support of up to 5 years (two years for M.Sc. and 3 years for PhD). More information about support and awards is available from the main departmentatal support web page.
Graduate students usually take both astronomy and physics coursework at the
beginning of their degrees.
Recent course offerings in Astronomy can be found at the departmental
Graduate Course listing.
What about a thesis supervisor?
Although some students seek to determine a thesis supervisor before arriving in the M.Sc. degree (this is a requirement for the PhD degree), many students enter the M.Sc. program and choose a supervisor after arrival and meeting our faculty members; the choice of a supervisor should occur within the first 4 months of arriving at UBC.
Students looking for a thesis supervisor can learn abut the research each of our faculty members is doing by browsing the "Astro-group" faculty pages below. Many of these pages will have the golden icon above, which will lead directly to listings of available projects.
Life as a UBC graduate student
Vancouver is consistently rated amongst the world's top three cities in which to live. Those who like outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, and water sports) are in luck, but Vancouver also has an exciting annual series of international festivals of culture, music, cinema, and theater.
The astronomy group's graduate students are grouped in a set of
offices with a common area, allowing strong interaction with your
colleages. The group has a weekly lunch to discuss news related
to `all things astro'.
There are weekly departmental colloquia in both astronomy
(Mondays) and Physics (Thursdays) as well as a plethora of
weekly seminars and journal clubs in a variety of sub-topics
in physics and astronomy.