Graduate Handbook - Section 4

University of Minnesota

Department of Astronomy

Section 4


You have been specifically admitted to the Ph.D. program. To change programs (e.g., add an M.S. before obtaining a Ph.D.) you must make formal application for transfer through the Graduate School. If you are thinking of obtaining an M.S. degree on the way to a Ph.D., and, again, this is encouraged, please talk to the DGS as early aspossible.

You are required to file the Degree Program including a list of courses and a thesis title (for Plan A) by the end of your first year in the program. You must take a total of at least 30 credits. They are divided as follows: 14 credits in astronomy, 6 credits in a related field (e.g., Physics or Mathematics), and 10 Master's thesis credits. You have to take one semester of classical Physics (Phys 5011).

The Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 2.8 on all course work in the program.


[top]4.1 M.S. in Astrophysics - Plan A (Thesis)

In the M.S. Plan A program you will be required to submit a research title with your Degree Program. Minor changes in the thesis title are acceptable without subsequent reapproval. Requires 10 Master's thesis credits.

When your adviser agrees that your thesis is ready for review and defense, you must acquire a "readers report form" from the Graduate School, which must be signed by all three members of your final examining committee. This certifies that you are ready for final examination. Then you may obtain the examination report form from the Graduate School. You must arrange a time and place for the exam. All members of the committee must agree that you have passed the exam.


[top]4.2 M.S. in Astrophysics - Plan B (Non-Thesis)

Requires 30 semester credits of coursework

The Plan B Master's degree requires completion of from one to three papers written in connection with three courses in your program. These three courses must total at least nine credits and each course must be designated by an asterisk in the Graduate School Bulletin. At least two of these courses must be in astrophysics. The official expectation is that about 120 working hours are necessary in preparing your Plan B papers. A paper may be written for each course separately, or you may combine courses. You should clear your topic(s) with the instructors in the specified courses and with the DGS and get their approval of the final result. Although there is no formal mechanism for this approval, you do not want to wait until the final oral to find out whether or not the topics were acceptable.

You must pass a final oral examination, primarily based on your Plan B papers. The examination committee is chosen by the DGS, with your help, and approved by the Graduate School. Copies of your Plan B papers must be made available to the committee members at least 7-10 days before your exam. You are responsible for arranging the time and place for the examination. All committee members must agree that you have passed the exam.

The plan B option for the Master's degree is normally chosen when a graduate student has decided not to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, has completed the required course work, but has not made significant progress on original research. For example, in the past, graduate students that have transferred into other graduate programs have found the plan B option desirable, as it allows them to show tangible credit for their accomplishments, while not requiring the extra effort of writing a Master's thesis.

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