Flatirons in snow

2023 APS graduate information sessions:

RECORDING from 11/1 session

Fall 2024 applications are now closed. Applications for fall 2025 will re-open in July 2024. 

Interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in astrophysics, planetary science, and Solar science? Check out our Graduate Admissions info sessions! 
Can't make it to campus for a tour? Check out this YouVisit graduate student tour our Strategic Relations team put together.

The APS department offers a Ph.D. degree. Graduate students generally specialize in areas of astrophysics, planetary science, solar physics, or space physics. Find out more about graduate courses, TAs and RAs (below), comprehensive exams, and thesis requirements, as well as enjoy your time as a graduate student in the Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Department.

Research & Research Assistants (RAs)

The purpose of the APS graduate program is to teach the techniques for outstanding research. Graduate students are generally supported on Research Assistantships (RAs) after their first year. As an RA, a student works on independent research under the guidance of an advisor, and often several projects leading to publication are completed before beginning thesis work. All students complete the Comps, an independent project of five to eight months' duration which typically results in publication.

Students work on research not only with APS professors, but also with many of the associated institutions in Boulder.

Detailed information on research, research groups, and graduate student involvement can be found on the APS Research page.

Promoting an Inclusive Community in Astronomy (PICA) helps find resources for jobs in the research world.

Teaching & Teaching Assistants (TAs)

The APS department strongly encourages the development of good teaching skills. Most students are supported by a teaching assistantship (TA) for their first year at CU, and many students choose to supplement their research with teaching later in their graduate careers. However, the APS department has no TA requirement.

Integral parts of the teaching resources at Colorado are the Sommers-Bausch Observatory (SBO) and Fiske Planetarium, both on campus. SBO houses two computer-controlled 20" telescopes and a science-grade 24" telescope. The observatory is extensively used for undergraduate classes, and public open houses run by graduate students are held every Friday evening. The 24" reflector is used primarily for graduate education, and graduate students have nearly unlimited access to it for their research. The Fiske Planetarium, one of the major planetaria in the country, is used both for teaching undergraduate classes and for hosting a wide range of public shows and astronomy talks. APS lecturer John Keller is the Director of Fiske Planetarium and coordinates education and outreach programs.

APS is one of about 40 departments on campus that has a Lead Graduate Teacher. The Lead Graduate Teacher arranges workshops, provides advice, and serves as a liaison between the TAs and the faculty, as well as between the department and the Graduate Teacher Program at CU.

The APS department is also very active in astronomy education and outreach in the community. Graduate and undergraduate students are involved with producing and operating shows at Fiske. Students also regularly work with and visit local school classrooms, develop curricular material in coordination with the Boulder Valley school district, and coordinate and present at regional educator workshops.

Additional Information 

Graduate study in Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado consists of interdisciplinary coursework, frontier research opportunities, and involvement in active and future spacecraft missions. For more information on the program and associated faculty, click here.

APS is also associated with the geophysics program at CU and several of our graduate students are pursuing this program with a concentration in planetary geophysics. Please see the geophysics program page for details. Also, a certificate is offered.