Graduate Studies


The University of Florida Department of Astronomy offers Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Astronomy. The department currently includes approximately 100 individuals, including 25 faculty and 30 funded graduate students. During their first two years, students take core courses providing a solid foundation in astronomy and astrophysics, as well as electives in astronomy, physics and/or closely related fields. Our department places a strong emphasis in research for the graduate program. During their first year, graduate students begin working with faculty, engineers, and/or postdocs on a research project in observational or theoretical astronomy or the development of astronomical instrumentation. Financial support for graduate studies is available through fellowships, research assistantships and teaching assistantships.

Graduate students in the department have access to a wide range of national and international ground and space-based observing facilities for research. The University of Florida is a partner in the 10.4m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) on La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands, providing our graduate students, faculty and researchers with guaranteed access to this premier facility for optical/IR astronomy. Through our instrumentation program, the department has guaranteed access to the Kitt Peak 4m and 2m telescopes and the Gemini North and South 8m telescopes, as well as additional observing nights with the GTC. Our department is a member of the SDSS-III Collaboration, with full access to the data from the ongoing SDSS-III surveys. In recent years students have also utilized a host of other ground-based and space facilities in their research such as HST, Chandra, Spitzer, Kepler, Magellan, Keck, the VLT, Kitt Peak, the Gemini telescopes, and CTIO to name a few. Students can also use the University of Florida's Rosemary Hill Observatory, which houses 76 cm and 46 cm reflectors, and has in recent times been used for research on exoplanet transits. Students have access to high-performance computing resources including a 176-core cluster, the University of Florida High Performance Computing Center and national facilities such as NASA Pleiades and Columbia supercomputers.

Furthermore, former and current graduate students from the Graduate Student Association (GAO) have proudly collaborated in creating the Graduate Astronomy Treatise On Relocating (GATOR) to Gainesville and the University of Florida, a guide to provide new and prospective students with an insight to the daily endeavors of our family.

Research Areas

Solar System

  • Researchers are active in studing the origins and orbital evolution of interplanetary dust and small bodies in the Solar System (and around nearby stars). The properties of cosmic dust are studied using a Microwave Analog-to-Light Scattering facility. The UF Radio Observatory (UFRO) is one of the largest observatories in the world dedicated to the study of decametric radio emission from the giant planets.

Stars & Stellar Populations

  • Observational studies concentrate on resolved stars in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Studies of particular classes of stars include various types of binary stars and blue stragglers. The goal of these studies is to apply our theoretical understanding of stellar structure and evolution to the properties of stars in a variety of environments.

Star Formation & Interstellar Medium

  • Observational studies focus on the properties of giant molecular clouds, the collapse of molecular cloud cores, the formation of stars in clusters and in isolation, and the formation and evolution of circumstellar and protoplanetary disks. Theoretical studies emphasize the influences of thermodynamics, velocity fields and interface instabilities upon star formation.

Structure & Evolution of Galaxies

  • Some observational programs use multi-wavelength photometry of stars and star clusters in galaxies throughout the Local Group, including the Milky Way, to study Local Group evolution. Observations focus on the structure and dynamics of galaxies using HI and CO. Theoretical studies model galaxies, using N-body and hydrodynamical codes. Non-linear dynamics and chaos theory are applied to problems in galactic dynamics.

Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology

  • Observational programs investigate the nature of ultra-luminous galaxies, active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and the formation and chemical evolution of distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Theoretical investigations focus on the emission/absorption features in AGN spectra, the star formation and chemical evolution properties of galaxies, and applications of general relativity and particle physics to conditions in the very early Universe.


  • Our Infrared Astrophysics Laboratory is a world leader in the design and construction of advanced near-infrared and mid-infrared instrumentation for major telescopes around the world, including the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, the International Gemini 8m Telescope Project and the 10m Grand Telescope CANARIAS. Furthermore, our Laboratory for Astrophysics is a leading developer of satellite instruments for NASA and international space agencies to measure the optical properties of dust particles in diverse environments.

Extrasolar Planets

  • Observations studies include radial velocity planet searches, transit searches (NASA's Kepler mission), ground-based transit follow-up observations, and statistical analysis of many types of exoplanets observations. Theoretical investigations include modeling planet formation and the orbital dynamics of multiple planet systems.