The standard Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS) faculty appointment divides time between research (40%), teaching (40%), and service (20%). The standard teaching load is one course per semester (there are two semesters in the 9-month academic year). Up to three summer months are self-supported from research grants.

Faculty are initially hired for four years, and during the fourth year are evaluated for reappointment for an additional three years. The standard time to tenure is seven years; tenure review occurs during the seventh year and is based on the first six years’ performance. The tenure clock may be temporarily stopped (for example, for parental leave), and tenure review may be requested prior to the seventh year. A sabbatical semester can be requested after six years of service to the University.

Standard research expectations for faculty include publishing research in peer-reviewed journals, acquiring research grants, and advising students and postdocs in research. Startup packages are provided to enable new faculty to jump-start their research group in advance of winning research grants.

In addition to being members of the APS department, faculty will have a research home in CASA, JILA, or LASP. Typically, CASA faculty engage in observational and theoretical astrophysics and instrumentation, JILA faculty are focused on astrophysical theory and simulation, and LASP faculty work in planetary science, heliophysics, and space physics. These divisions are not rigid. New faculty, in consultation with APS and the directors of the research organizations, will pick a research home that is the best fit to their interests and plans.

Faculty are expected to continuously improve their teaching, and CU Boulder offers ample teaching development resources through the Center for Teaching and Learning. APS faculty routinely share teaching materials and ideas, as well as offer peer visits to classrooms to provide detailed teaching evaluations and suggestions for improvement. Education researchers in APS and in the Physics Education Research group in the Physics Department conduct STEM education research that is routinely incorporated into APS teaching practices.

Service duties include departmental committee work (colloquium organizing, graduate student admissions, faculty hiring, equity and inclusion efforts, student curriculum and concerns, etc.), service to the university, service to the community, and national service to research and education infrastructure. Faculty often serve on national review panels, referee journal articles, and engage in public education and outreach.

The above are general descriptions, and the details of any individual appointment may vary. 

New Faculty Support

The APS department supports incoming faculty with an array of professional development support and encourages junior faculty to develop independent research programs while promoting an inclusive and supportive climate. APS first matches all incoming faculty with a senior faculty member who serves as a mentor. Faculty mentors provide guidance on navigating the pre-reappointment and pre-tenure periods, including development of a teaching plan, recruiting and retaining graduate students, and balancing teaching and service duties while developing an independent research program. The mentoring process lasts as long as the junior faculty member desires support. Junior faculty are also supported by prioritization of teaching assignments, and the development of a well-rounded teaching portfolio, including opportunities for teaching at the introductory, majors, and graduate level. The department and university provide funding to participate in programs for new faculty through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, including the Faculty Success Program. The faculty in the department have a culture of supporting each other professionally and personally.

The APS Department

APS Department includes about 30 faculty, about 30 affiliated postdocs, about 60 graduate students, and more than 350 undergraduate majors. Research areas include heliophysics, space physics, planetary and exoplanetary science, Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, cosmology, and instrumentation. Faculty are generally expected to teach at a range of levels, including introductory and/or non-major undergraduate (1000-2000), upper-level undergraduate (3000-4000), and graduate (5000-6000). Recently taught classes can be found under ASTR in the university course catalog, as well our current undergraduate and graduate course pages.  Faculty education and public outreach opportunities and programs are supported by the Fiske Planetarium and the Sommers­-Bausch Observatory.

Scientific Resources

The APS department and its affiliated research units (CASA, JILA, LASP) offer ample resources for teaching and research, including access to observational, instrumental, and theoretical facilities. The University of Colorado is a member of the ARC 3.5­ meter and ARCSAT 0.5­ meter telescopes in Sunspot, NM, and has two 0.5m and one 0.6m telescope locally on campus at the Sommers­-Bausch Observatory. CU Boulder is an institutional member of the SDSS IV and V Surveys and has institutional access to the Las Cumbres Observatory. Members of APS also have access to the CU Boulder facility for high­-performance computing and to facilities for the development of space­borne and ground-­based hardware. The headquarters of the National Solar Observatory, which operates the 4m Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, is located on the Boulder campus.

Other Resources

CU Human Resources provides information on employee benefits, support, resources, perks, and programs. International Student and Scholar Services offers support and consultation about visas and other issues for international faculty. The Office of Faculty Affairs provides information for dual-career academic couples. Additional questions about the department or university can be directed to the APS Business Manager Robyn Ronen (