Astrophysics and Astronomy, MS

At a Glance: program details

Prepare yourself to discover new planets, explore cosmology, and build space-flight hardware and instruments for telescopes and satellites. You can work with world-class faculty on NASA- and NSF-funded space missions, and seek answers to questions about how our universe began and how it continues to evolve.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MS Astrophysics and Astronomy

The MS program in astrophysics and astronomy provides fundamental graduate training in both astrophysics and astronomy.

Students take graduate-level courses in stars and interstellar media, galaxies and cosmology; obtain quantitative skills through analysis and modelling; and they may have observation opportunities through regional and international telescope observatories.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours and a thesis
  • 30 credit hours including the required capstone courses (SES 510 and SES 599)

Required Core (1 credit hour)
SES 502 Exploring SESE Research (1)

Electives or Research (5 credit hours)

Other Requirements: Astrophysics Sequence (9 credit hours)
AST 521 Stars and Interstellar Medium I (3)
AST 522 Stars and Interstellar Medium II (3)
AST 591 Seminar: Astrophysics (2)
SES 501 SESE Colloquium (1)

Other Requirements: Galaxies and Cosmology Sequence, pick one (3 credit hours)
AST 531 Galaxies and Cosmology I (3)
AST 532 Galaxies and Cosmology II (3)
AST 533 Galaxies and Cosmology III (3)

Other Requirements: Exoplanets and Planetary Science Sequence, pick one (3 credit hours)
AST 598 Topic: Origins of Solar Systems (3)
AST 598 Topic: Exploring Exoplanets (3)
SES 598 Topic: Water in the Solar System (3)

Other Requirements: Instrumentation and Techniques Sequence, pick one (3 credit hours)
AST 552 Astronomical Instrumentation and Data Analysis (3)
SES 598 Topic: An Introduction to Astro-statistics (3)
SES 598 Topic: Spectroscopy for Astrophysics (3)
SES 598 Topic: Introductory Radio Astronomy (3)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
SES 510 Graduate Exploration Project I (3) and SES 511 Graduate Exploration II (3) or SES 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Substitutions for other required courses may be made per department approval.

For their culminating experience, students in an accelerated program complete capstone courses SES 510 and 511. All other students complete SES 599.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or they must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admissions application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. statement of purpose
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Astronautics)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Mechanical Engineering

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Astrophysics)

Do you want to be at the edge of exploration, making new discoveries about our planet, our solar system and our universe? Explore cosmology, design and build space-flight hardware and engineer new instruments for telescopes and satellites.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Exploration Systems Design)

Cross the boundaries of science and engineering while preparing for a new era of exploration. Learn to build space-flight hardware, engineer solutions to explore extreme environments and take a systems-based approach to scientific discovery.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Aeronautics)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Electrical Engineering (Electrical Power and Energy Systems)

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BSE - Aerospace Engineering (Autonomous Vehicle Systems)

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration

Learn about our planet, solar system and universe by combining science, engineering and education. You could be involved in building space-flight hardware; making astronomical observations; discovering new microbes; exploring volcanoes, oceans and glaciers; investigating Earth climate interactions; and setting the stage for a new era of exploration.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BSE - Electrical Engineering

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Geological and Planetary Sciences)

Explore Earth's past, present and future. Study natural hazards, the distribution of critical minerals and the record of Earth system evolution. Apply this knowledge to help find sustainable solutions for the energy and resource needs of human civilization and to mitigate the effects of natural hazards and climate change.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BS - Earth and Space Exploration (Astrobiology and Biogeosciences)

How do "living worlds" work? Explore the complex connections between life and planetary systems. Learn how astronomy, biology, geology and chemistry combine to shape the habitability of planets and Earth's extreme environments. Discover how to detect life on other planetary bodies or in remote environments on Earth.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
December 1st



Session A/C
In Person
October 1st

Career Opportunities

Professionals with expertise in astrophysics and astronomy are in high demand across all sectors and industries, including remote sensing, data science, building instruments and scientific research. Coding and numerical modeling skills translate across many domains, even beyond astrophysics. Skills in the measurement and analysis of data related to the physics, chemistry and structure of the universe and exoplanetary systems are valuable to businesses and institutions relying on data-driven strategies to explore beyond the Earth and solar system.

This degree program prepares candidates for further graduate study or for careers in related fields such as scientific staff positions at government laboratories, teaching at the community college level and technical positions in industry. Career examples include:

  • data scientist
  • research astronomer
  • telescope operator

Program Contact Information

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