- Graduate programs
- Focus on Research
- Astrophysical Instrumentation
UCSC is the home of one of the preeminent astrophysical instrumentation centers: the UCO/Lick Observatory Technical Facilities. Two of the major goals of UCSC researchers are the development of the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope, and the continuing improvement of Adaptive Optics techniques.
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DON'T BE DISTRACTED...
...by the redwood trees, pristine beaches,
and brilliant sunshine...
WE DO SERIOUS ASTROPHYSICAL AND
PLANETARY SCIENCES AT UCSC!
UCSC’s group is one of the world’s best, boasting top faculty across a broad range of subjects, great access to instrumental and computational resources, and a top-notch graduate training program. And yes, exceptional quality of life. Interested?
The graduate program in Astrophysical and Planetary Science at UCSC, like the research program, spans four departments. These programs, separately and together, are leaders in graduate education, have outstanding reputations, and offer a first-rate academic experience to students. UCSC graduates are leaders in academia, research, government, and industry, and hold positions at leading instutions around the world. Students have access to our world-class Pleiades Supercomputer, plus cutting-edge data from FERMI, Hubble, Keck, Spitzer, Cassini, New Horizons, Kepler and other world-class telescopes, spacecraft and instruments.
Did you know:
- Cold-dark-matter galaxy formation theory began at UCSC
- Most known extrasolar planets were discovered with UCSC-built equipment
- The hypernovae model for GRBs was invented at UCSC
- The first numerical model of Earth's reversing dynamo was by a UCSC professor
- The FERMI gamma-ray satellite was born at UCSC
- UCSC pioneered giant optical telescopes like Keck, and is making the key technology breakthroughs for even larger telescopes
- UCSC’s physics faculty is the nation’s most highly cited, and a 2001 study found the physics graduate program to be "the highest rating for overall student satisfaction of any physics program in the country"
As a UCSC graduate student, you will contribute importantly to world-class, cutting-edge discoveries while positioning yourself to follow previous UCSC students who have gone on to become Hubble Fellows, Keck Fellows, Chandra Fellows, and junior faculty at excellent institutions.
For more information on the four graduate programs in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, see:
- Astronomy Graduate Program
- Applied Math & Statistics Graduate Program
- Physics Graduate Program
- Earth & Planetary Sciences Graduate Program
- For theorists, the TASC group aims to bring together theorists in all four departments, and offers fellowships.
A frequently asked question is: Which program should I apply to?
The four programs at UCSC have both strong overlap and strong synergy, so this decision can be tricky. However, although you may apply to only one program, the four programs do share information about top applicants, and pass applicants back and forth, so if your application is not accepted by your department of choice, there is still an opportunity to be admitted to another. Some considerations you for making the best first choice, however, are:
- Students in one department are free to work with faculty in other departments, and even to have as their PhD advisor a faculty from another department. This is not uncommon, especially between the physics and astronomy departments. However, students tend to naturally have more contact with the faculty in their department, so you are advised to focus on the departments with the faculty most closely matching your research interests.
- The programs all have different formal requirements in terms of qualifying exams, research project requirements and, most importantly, coursework. You are encouraged to carefully review the differences in course requirements, and talk to faculty in the different programs. Some distinctions are relatively straightforward - for example, astronomy within the solar system is generally within the EPS purview while exoplanets are currently more relevant to astronomers. Other distinctions are more subtle - for example, physical cosmologists fit well in either the physics or astronomy department, while early-universe cosmology fits more naturally within physics.