Astronomy: Earning the PhD degree

For a comprehensive description of the PhD in Astronomy, consult the program requirements.

Course Requirements

For the PhD, students are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 units each quarter.

Doctoral Committee

Doctoral committees are arranged by the student before the oral qualifying examination. Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor for recommendations on committee members.

To nominate a doctoral committee, please consult the minimum standards for doctoral committees and complete the nomination of doctoral committee form. The doctoral committee must be approved by Graduate Division before the oral qualifying examination.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying examination, the main purpose of which is to discuss and evaluate the student’s proposed dissertation problem, consists of a written component and an oral component. The written component is a written proposal of a proposed dissertation topic. The oral component is the presentation of the written proposal.

To schedule the oral qualifying exam, contact your advisor’s administrative assistant to book a room and time for the exam. After you have scheduled the exam, complete the preparation for oral qualifying exam link ( at least two weeks prior to the date of the actual exam.

Upon the successful completion of their oral qualifying examination, students are advanced to candidacy. Full-time students are expected to advance to candidacy within 10 quarters.


Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral examination (i.e. defense) is required for all students in the program. Full-time students are expected to defend and submit their Ph.D. dissertations within 15 quarters.

To schedule your defense, complete the preparation for final oral exam form.

Filing Your Dissertation

When you are ready to file your dissertation, please consult with Graduate Division for deadlines, formatting and other regulations.