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Penn State offers an attractive environment for graduate studies in Astronomy:

  • The Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics is one of the most productive astronomy research programs in the country, according to a recent study by the National Research Council.  In that study, the Department had the highest number of publications per faculty member per year and it placed in the top three in the NRC Survey ranking (see
  • Graduate students taking leading roles in the research efforts of the Department, as illustrated by their many important accomplishments.
  • Graduate students can choose from a wide variety of research topics that span the entire electromagnetic spectrum and that include observations, theory, and instrumentation.
  • Penn State is a partner in the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the IceCube neutrino detector, and the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory. Graduate students also are frequent users of public facilities like Chandra, Swift, Hubble, Spitzer, and Gemini.
  • Our graduates go on to a wide range of employment opportunities, such as postdoctoral and faculty appointments at major academic institutions and national laboratories, research positions in computational environments associated with space missions, and faculty appointments at teaching colleges.


The Graduate Student Handbook contains more details about the graduate program, including research highlights, faculty profiles, the graduate curriculum, financial aid, and the University and surrounding area.

Graduate Student Handbook: Word document

Graduate Student Handbook: PDF document


The Graduate Bulletin is a document published by the Graduate School to supply academic information and program requirements for graduate programs. Graduate students should familiarize themselves with the Astronomy Graduate Bulletin in addition to the Graduate Student Handbook.