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This page contains brief details about astronomical institutions such as the number of astronomy faculty or staff, the available observing or computing resources, etc. Further information can always be found at the institutions website. Please feel free to add information or new institutions.

Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam (NL)

(Information updated: 16-Sept-2016)

Faculty: 15 tenure-track and tenured professors, 4 researchers with guest appointments who can supervise students, 3 research software developers
Postdocs: 18
Students: PhD: 42, MSc: ~35
Graduate Program: As in other places in Europe, the MSc and PhD are separate. The MSc is two years (one year of courses, one year of research), and the PhD is four years (no courses, ~3 sections of TAing, lots of research). MSc students pay tuition and are classified as students, whereas PhD students are officially university staff and civil servant employees. Incoming PhD students must already have an MSc. MSc students can shop around and ask staff members for a research project, but PhD students are hired on project money and switching projects/supervisors is effectively not possible.
Location: The API is located in Science Park, on the eastern edge of Amsterdam.
Distinctive Features: Very friendly and sociable place! People gather in the common room for coffee at 11am, and someone ends up bringing in cake to celebrate something about once a week.
Other: Website: http://astro.uva.nl/ 

Caltech

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Other: Contact Info

Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy (UK)

(Information updated: 07-Mar-2012)
Faculty: 17 (emeritus), 11 (professors), 7 (lecturers/permanent research staff), 8 (research fellows)
Postdocs: 39
Students: 47 (roughly 10-15 per year)
Graduate Program: Grad students typically take 3-4 years to finish PhDs (9-11 months for MPhil), depending on available funding.  There is no evaluated coursework or qualifying exams, and students usually begin work on their thesis a month or two after arriving (students are encouraged to 'shop around' for supervisors during their first Michaelmas term). STFC funded students get 3 years, most other students are also funded for 3 years, but might have the option for extension for an additional year.  Funding opportunities for international students is available through the Cambridge Trusts, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Marie Curie Graduate Fellowships, Marshall Scholarship (US citizens only), and various College Trusts.  Funding is not linked to supervisors unlike most US institutions.
Location: the IoA is on the outskirts of Cambridge, about a mile northwest on Madingley road.  It's about a 20minute walk from the city centre, or a 5-10min bike ride.  The building complex is in a wooded area, surrounded by cow fields.  The physics and computer science departments are across the street, where there are a few food options (on the "West Cambridge" site).  Otherwise it's fairly quiet and isolated with respect to the rest of the University departments.  The IoA is a substantially nicer building than neighboring Cavendish (physics); all offices have windows.  There are usually 3-5 grad students per office and 2 postdocs per office.
Distinctive Features: the IoA hosts a coffee hour every morning at 11am, and a tea time every afternoon at 3:30pm, making the department quite welcoming and cordial.  The department is big and quite social, although there isn't much mixing between faculty, postdocs and students.  The IoA does not have any proprietary access to telescopes, but is a part of the UK and ESO communities which do have proprietary access to certain facilities.
Other: Contact Info
 

Columbia

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Cornell

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Other: Contact Info, Parental Leave

Harvard Center for Astrophysics

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Florida Institute of Technology

(Information updated: 11/3/14)
Faculty: 14 (Astrobiology, Astronomy & Astrophysics, High Energy Physics, Lightning Physics, Planetary Science).
Postdocs: 4 research scientists.
Students: 40 graduate students. 10/10/10/10 Space Science MS/PhD, Physics MS/PhD.
Graduate Program:MS = 30 credit hours, PhD = 75 credit hours. 15 credit hours per year. Typical PhD: 5 core physics classes, 5 subject specific classes, ~5 specialized classes (45 credit hours). An extra 30 credit hours research/dissertation. Nominal 5 years for completion. ~15% acceptance rate, 3 - 4 new TA positions per year (tuition plus stipend). Diagnostic and candidancy written exam waiver for Physics GRE scores in upper 1/3. 
Location: Melbourne - East Central Florida, just south of the Kennedy Space Center. Very low cost of living. 1 hour drive from Orlando attractions. No snow. 
Distinctive Features: Private research university founded in 1958 to educate scientists to work at the Kennedy Space Center on the space program. Very close ties with NASA and the private space industry. Guarenteed access to ground-based telescopes at Kitt Peak, Cerro Tololo, and La Palma. Frequent use of all of NASAs Great Observatories. Major involvement with multiple space-missions, and leaders of many ISS projects. Lightning capital of the US, with continuous monitoring for natural lightning, including trans-ionospheric phenomena, and rocket triggered lightning.

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MIT

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Other: Contact Info, Parental Leave

Michigan State University

(Information updated: 26 Oct 2012, more to come)
Faculty: 9 professors (including one starting 2013), 1 emeritus professor. The full physics and astronomy department has about 70 professors (including co-appointments with the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab/Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.)
Postdocs: 4 research associates
Students: There are 11 astronomy graduate students currently. About 3 students enter each year.
Graduate Program: MSU's PhD astronomy students are members of the Physics and Astronomy Department but follow a program specific to astronomy, including 3 core physics courses, 5 astronomy courses, and a 2nd-year research project. Typically students take two years to complete the classes. Students are encouraged to dabble in research early, and it is possible to complete a 2nd year project with one advisor and a PhD dissertation with another. Students are required to serve as a TA for one semester, but more typically spend two years working as a TA for the astronomy lab course. After qualifying for PhD candidacy, students take 3-4 years to complete their PhD research program.
Location: East Lansing, Michigan. The department is located in a relatively new (2002) building located in the center of one of the largest college campuses in the world (contiguous 21 sq km, 8 of which are developed) with a student population of 48,000. MSU is a Big Ten school with all that entails (football, basketball, and hockey) but also offers music and theater, including Broadway, on campus. It is about 75 minutes to the Detroit airport, 3.5 hours from Chicago.
Distinctive Features:MSU research includes both theory, including supercomputer simulations of cosmology and the birth of the first stars, and observations, including opportunities to work with space observatories such as HST, Chandra, XMM. MSU has 40 nights per year on the SOAR Telescope, located on Cerro Pachon in  Chile. Most of these nights are conducted via remote observing from East Lansing. The department is the top-ranked nuclear physics program in the US, so one unique feature is the program in nuclear astrophysics, or the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics. The group also has access to the SDSS III.
Other: Contact Info

NOAO

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NRAO

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Northwestern

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Other: Contact Info, Parental Leave

Ohio State University

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Other: Contact Info

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

(Information updated: 07-Mar-2012)
Faculty: 10 tenured/tenure-track faculty; 1 research professor; 1 emeritus professor; 1 lecturer
Postdocs: 4
Students: 15
Graduate Program: Graduate students typically take 5-6 years to finish their PhDs. Nine courses are required for the "astronomy option" within the PhD program. Advancement to candidacy in the second year is based on performance in five of those courses, plus an exam that comprises a written paper, an oral presentation, and an oral examination on a topic of the student's choice that is related to a current area of research.
Location: The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers is located on the university's Busch Campus in the township of Piscataway, New Jersey, just across the Raritan River from the city of New Brunswick, which lies on the main train line between New York and Philadelphia. The astrophysics group occupies the western end of the third floor of Serin Laboratory, next to the Physics Library and just below the Robert A. Schommer Observatory used for teaching and public outreach events; first and second-year graduate students generally have offices in the Allison Road Classroom (ARC) building across the street. Busch Campus hosts most of the university's science and engineering departments and features its own dining facilities, undergraduate and graduate housing, athletic fields, and recreation center (including an Olympic-size pool). 
Distinctive Features: The Rutgers astrophysics faculty includes multiple theorists and observers who work at radio through X-ray wavelengths. During the academic year, the weekly schedule includes a departmental colloquium, an astrophysics seminar, an informal research+arXiv discussion, and a student-run journal club. The astrophysics group exists within a department with excellent research programs in a broad range of areas (biophysics, condensed matter physics, high-energy physics, and nuclear physics) and the flexibility to accommodate students whose interests evolve among these areas over time. Rutgers is a 10% partner in the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) collaboration and is an institutional member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) collaboration.

Space Telescope Science Institute

Stanford

Stony Brook University (or SUNY @ Stony Brook)

(Information updated: 27-Apr-2013)
Faculty: 8 (tenured/tenure-track professors), 2 (emeritus), 2 (research professors), 2 (permanent researchers) — Gender breakdown: 1 Female, 14 Male. Note: Full Physics & Astronomy Department consists of ~70 faculty (7 Female, 63 Male) and ~170 graduate students.
Postdocs: 2 — Gender breakdown: 0 Female, 2 Male
Students: 7 — Gender breakdown: 3 Female, 4 Male
Graduate Program: The department has been joint physics and astronomy since astronomy merged with physics in 1998.  Prior to that the astronomy program was part of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and has existed since 1968.
Though rigorous data isn't available, anecdotally graduate students typically take 4-7 years to finish their PhDs.  Advancement to PhD candidacy requires: (1) B or better in 5 physics core courses, 2 seminar courses, 1 graduate lab course (physics or astronomy), 2 breadth courses (courses in research areas outside of your field, e.g. nuclear physics, biophysics, or particle physics).  However, for historical reasons astronomy students can choose to instead take the four core astro courses and no breadth course or three core astro courses and one breadth course. (2) Two semesters of teaching assistance (before joining a research group, this is the source of your stipend). (3) Passing a comprehensive exam that consists of questions in all of the predominant physics research fields by the end of your fourth semester.  It's offered every semester, so you get 5 attempts total.  You are graded on your answers to four of the twelve available questions.  Again due to historical reasons there are four astronomy questions as opposed to the two for other fields, and astronomy students are permitted to answer only astronomy questions. (4) Passing an oral exam that consists of presenting to a committee of faculty on a current research topic.  In astronomy, the oral exam is a thesis proposal in which you demonstrate what research you've accomplished so far and propse a topic for your dissertation thesis.  This proposal is prepared with the guidance of your advisor.

After meeting these four requirements you advance to candidacy and focus on research and writing your dissertation.  Please note that individual circumstances can deviate from the above as approved by the faculty and graduate program director and that some requirements can be waived by demonstrating equivalent experience (such as TAing before entering the department or passing placement exams to waive core course requirements).  The details of the PhD requirements are laid out here.
Location: Stony Brook is located in central Long Island in New York, USA.  The winters can be bad for those from more southernly climes, though being on the ocean means they're typically more moderate than those in upstate New York and other parts of the Northeast.  The cost of living on Long Island is quite high.  Monthly rent for graduate students can vary greatly, but most seem to pay about $500-$800 per month for rent and utilities (often sharing a house with 2-4 other graduate students — apartment costs are much higher, at least $900/month and usually closer to $1400/month+).  Graduate housing is available with singles ranging from $600-$1300/month and if you don't mind sharing a room can be as low as ~$400/month.  Public transit is not very robust and consists mainly of the (slow) Long Island Rail Road and the Suffolk County bus system.  Most graduate students find it difficult to live without a car.  To get an idea of what your budget will be to pay for such costs, the typical student stipend is $22,000 / year (~$24,500 seems typical for astro research assistants).  The Phys&Astro Dept provides some financial information here.  On a rosier note, New York City is accessible (~1.5-2 hours on the LIRR, about an hour drive), the south shore beaches are nice in the summer, there's wonderful vinyards and wine tasting on the north fork of eastern Long Island as well as some nice craft breweries, the pizza's the best you ever had and so are the bagels.
The astronomy group lives on the fourth floor of the Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) building.  The offices are probably the best of any of the grad student offices (meaning we have a few small windows).  The offices are two rooms (connected by an always-open door) containing about 4 grad student desks each where most students work.  The astro group nurtures a strong sense of community largely through the use of the lounge and seminar room on our floor.  With these we host lunch paper discussions, coffees, and during the school semesters weekly seminars and presentations on current astro research papers.  The ESS (and Physics) building is adjacent to the Student Activities Center which houses the Wolfie Marketplace (decent coffee) and the cafeteria, among other things.
Distinctive Features: On top of the ESS building is a domed computerized Meade 14 inch LX200-ACF telescope dubbed Mount Stony Brook.  It has 2 CCD cameras and a spectrograph.  It's primary use is for undergraduate and graduate education (it's used in the graduate astronomy lab) as well as public outreach (we have monthly "Open Nights" with talks for a public audience and viewing if weather permits).
Stony Brook also has resources for observational research.  It's one of the founding members of the SMARTS consortium in collaboration with Yale, Ohio State University, and the American Museum of Natural History.  SMARTS operates four small telescopes (1.5-m, 1.3-m, 1.0-m, and 0.9-m) in Chile.  We're also a 6% partner in the Palomar 5-m Hale telescope.  In addition we frequently (and successfully) apply for time on world-class research telescopes (see here).
In theoretical astrophysics we have a strong focus on nuclear astrophysics (the nuclear equation of state developed by our faculty members Jim Lattimer and Doug Swesty is widely used in realistic models of neutron stars).  We have also recently added a cosmologist to the group.  We have a strong focus on compuational astrophysics.  Our faculty have been major developers of mature astrophysics codes such as FLASH, MAESTRO, and CASTRO.  With these we study mostly explosions: type Ia supernovae, X-ray bursts, novae, and sometimes core-collapse supernovae.


Other: Contact Info

 

 

 

University of Arizona, Steward Observatory

(Information updated: 12-Dec-2014)
Faculty: 32 (professors), 34 (permanent researchers), 7 (joint appointments), 22 (adjunct), 5 (emeritus)
Postdocs: 22
Students: 41
Graduate Program: Graduate students typically take 5-6 years to finish their PhDs. Grad students take 5 core astronomy classes (ISM & Star Formation, Stars & Accretion, Cosmology, Galaxies, and Instrumentation & Statistics, as well as 3-4 elective classes. Graduate students are required to TA for two semesters, and typically wait until after they have completed coursework to do so. Students choose a research advisor within a few weeks of arriving on campus, and will do a first/second year project with that advisor. The prelim exam has two components: a written exam based on the core coursework, which is taken in the spring of year 2, and an oral exam based on the first/second year project, which is done in the summer of year 2 or fall of year 3. After the prelim, students can stay on with their advisor for the rest of their PhD, or switch projects. 

Location: Steward Observatory is on the main University of Arizona campus near NOAO, the Lunar and Planetary lab, the mirror lab, and the Optics department. The city of Tucson has a low cost of living, a unique local culture, and is easily bikable. 

Distinctive Features: Steward Observatory has observing access to Magellen, MMT, and LBT.  NOAO and LPL (the lunar and planetary lab) are also right next door, so the astronomical community in Tucson is rather large. Collaboration between departments is encouraged by many colloquia and talk series, as well as more informal science coffee events. They also have a great undergraduate astronomy major program.
Other: Contact Info

 

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Riverside

University of California, San Diego

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Chicago

University of Colorado Boulder

(Information updated: 24-Jul-2013)
Faculty:  23 (professors); 19 (research faculty); 6 (emeritus); numerous joint appointments with NCAR, NOAA, SwRI, CORA, NIST, and other local research institutes
Postdocs:
Students: 51 (about 10 admitted per year)
Graduate Program:  Students take 5 core courses (Atomic & Molecular Processes, Math Methods, Statistics & Data Analysis, Radiative & Dynamical Processes, Fluid Dynamics) in their first three semesters, followed by the first part of the comprehsive exam (Comps I). Comps I is a written exam covering the core courses. Students are required to take 16 additional credits, including three seminar courses which cover active research topics. Generally students complete these classes by the end of their fourth or fifth semester. After passing Comps I students begin a 6-9 month research project cuminating in a Master's thesis, which is the second part of the comprehensive exam (Comps II). Sudents are encouraged but not required to do their Comps II project on a topic that is different from the topic of their thesis. Student generally begin thesis research in earnest after passing Comps II. On average students take 5.8 +/- 1.0 years to complete their PhD.
Location: Boulder, CO
Distinctive Features:  Students commonly work with researchers at one of the many research institutes around Boulder, including the National Center for Atmosphric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Colorado Research Associtate (CORA), and several others. Rouhgly 25% of grad students work with an adviser outside of the department. One of the distinctive features of this department is that graduate students are appointed to essentially all faculty committees, inlcuding committees for graduate admissions, faculty searches, etc.
Other: Contact Info, Contact Info

University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy

(Information updated: 07-Mar-2012)
Faculty: 33 (active tenure track), 9 (inactive or emeritus), 8 (non-tenure track), 10 (support scientist)
Postdocs: 30 (11 of which are astrobiology postdocs, i.e. not on-site)
Students: 39 (roughly 3-12 per year)
Graduate Program: Grad students typically take 5-6 years to finish PhDs.  Students spend the first two years completing year-long research projects ("699" projects), while being employed as TAs or RAs, and they typically take oral qualifying exams at the beginning of their third year.  Later in the 3rd year students typically propose their PhD thesis topic and begin work on it towards the end of the 3rd year, beginning of the 4th year.
Location: the IfA is about a mile north of the University of Hawaii Campus in Manoa, in Honolulu on the island of O'ahu.  It's conveniently located next to a shopping center with a safeway and many nice restaurants within a five minute walk.  Parking in the neighborhood is relatively easy and free.  The IfA also has campuses in Hilo and on Maui, although they are significantly smaller than the Manoa campus.
Distinctive Features: the available observing time is very unqiue.  The IfA has ~10% of all observing time on all Mauna Kea observatories, including Keck, Subaru, Gemini, JCMT, SMA, CFHT, UKIRT, IRTF, CSO, and the UH88".  Thesis approved grad students (~post-3rd year), postdocs, and faculty can all apply for time as PI.  Postdocs and faculty can pursue multiple science programs while students are limited to one science program (usually relevent to their thesis).
Other: Contact Info

University of Maryland

(Information last reviewed/updated: 1-Nov-2016)

Faculty: 15 (professorial faculty), 4 (emeritus); 2 (professional track teaching faculty); 76 (research scientists & faculty specialists, of whom 49 are offsite at NASA/Goddard)
Postdocs: 20 (13 of which are offsite at NASA/Goddard) 
Students: 36 (5-6 typically admitted per year)
Graduate Program: Graduate students usually take 5-7 years to graduate. They become engaged in supervised research no later than the start of their second year.  They are evaluated for admission into the Ph.D. program at the beginning of the third year based on their 2nd-year projects, coursework, and written qualifier exams.  They then identify a thesis adviser and topic (which may be a continuation of their 2nd-year project).  Students present their thesis proposal and  advance to candidacy by the end of their 4th year. Students are expected to submit at least one paper for publication, and most publish multiple papers. Nearly all graduate students are fully-funded during their graduate program through assistantships and fellowships. For more information please see our department introduction, our info on funding and expectations, and our graduate handbook.

Location: The University of Maryland is located in College Park, MD. Our campus is 10 miles north of downtown Washington D.C. and a few miles west of NASA/Goddard.

Distinctive Features: The department has outstanding facilities and partnerships. These include guaranteed access to the Discovery Channel Telescope, leadership of space missions such as Deep Impact/EPOXI, participation in the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory & Zwicky Transient Facility, and a joint PhD program with Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.  We have a strong partnership with NASA Goddard, which includes The Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology , the Goddard Planetary Heliophysics Institute (led by UMBC), and the Joint Space-Science Institute.   The department also has a very active computational group with access to powerful computing clusters such as Deepthought2 and a visualization lab for simulations and displays of large datasets.  The department is located in two adjoining buildings, including the new Physical Sciences Complex (PSC). The PSC is an architectural masterpiece, and all 1st and 2nd year graduate students have windowed offices there.
Other: Contact Info,Leave Policies

University of Michigan

University of Texas, Austin

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Page last modified on Tuesday 01 of November, 2016 10:31:47 EDT