Graduate Admissions

APPLICATION PROCESS FOR US CITIZENS

  1. Take the General GRE in advance to allow your scores to be submitted by the application deadline.
  2. Apply online and pay the application fee through the graduate school by the Astronomy Department deadline. A limited number of fee waivers are available for US citizens.
  3. Submit documents online. For identification, please include your full name on all documents submitted. Do not include your social security number.
    • Online application.
    • Resume/C.V.: include your GPA from all non-astronomy related Physics courses.
    • Statement of purpose: this one-page essay must address the reasons why you wish to pursue a graduate program in Astronomy at the University of Washington. It should also describe any exceptional experiences and achievements that might help to support and strengthen your application.
    • Three letters of recommendation: you must designate three people to write letters and submit them online.
    • Upload unofficial transcripts. Documents should be generated by the institution (e.g., a scan of an official document or a PDF created from a student portal). Anything appearing self-generated is not considered a valid document. Unofficial transcripts are used to evaluate your academic record during admissions. UW Astronomy reserves the right to request an official transcript at any point once you submit your application. Admitted students will be required to submit two copies of their official transcript.
    • OPTIONAL: GO-MAP Personal Statement.
  4. Official Documents Required:
    • Official GRE (general) scores sent electronically from ETS (school code: 4854). You are encouraged to self-report your scores through your online application as soon as you receive them.
  5. Check your application status online by logging back into your online application. You will see which recommenders still need to submit letters and which documents the Department has received.

APPLICATION PROCESS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

An international student is anyone who IS NOT a US citizen and DOES NOT hold a US Permanent Resident Visa (i.e., “Green Card” or “Immigrant” status). This definition of an international student, includes those who hold U.S. visas, such as F-1 students, J-1 Exchange Visitors, H1-B dependent visas or any other non-immigrant classifications. If this applies to you, please read the following carefully.
  1. Take the General GRE in advance to allow your scores to be submitted by the application deadline.
  2. Take the TOEFL. Official TOEFL scores are required of international applicants, permanent residents, immigrants and transfer students, who are not citizens of the United States on the date of admission, and whose native language is other than English. For details and exceptions, please read Graduate School Memo #8. International students must meet the Graduate School conditions of appointment for TAs who are not native speakers of English. Read Graduate School Memo #15 for details.
  3. Apply online and pay the application fee through the graduate school by the Astronomy Department deadline.
  4. Submit documents online. For identification, please include your full name on all documents submitted.
    • Online application.
    • Resume/C.V.: include your GPA from all non-astronomy related, Physics courses.
    • Statement of purpose: this one-page essay must address the reasons why you wish to pursue a graduate program in Astronomy at the University of Washington. It should also describe any exceptional experiences and achievements that might help to support and strengthen your application.
    • Three letters of recommendation: You must designate three people to write letters and submit online.
    • Upload unofficial transcripts. Documents should be generated by the institution (e.g., a scan of an official document or a PDF created from a student portal). Anything appearing self-generated is not considered a valid document. Unofficial transcripts are used to evaluate your academic record during admissions. UW Astronomy reserves the right to request an official transcript at any point once you submit your application. Admitted students will be required to submit two copies of their official transcript.
  5. Official Documents Required:
    • Official GRE (general) scores sent electronically from ETS (school code: 4854)
    • Official TOEFL scores sent electronically from ETS (school code: 4854)
  6. Check your application status online by logging back into your online application. You will see which recommenders still need to submit letters and which documents the Department has received.

ASTROBIOLOGY

Based on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington, the UW Astrobiology (UWAB) Program supports an interdisciplinary community of twenty-five core faculty members, eight postdocs and research scientists, and nearly thirty graduate students – who span eight astrobiology – affiliated graduate programs in four different colleges. UWAB is a diverse and vibrant program that contributes to the young and exciting field of astrobiology through cutting-edge research, a world-class graduate training program, and on-going education and outreach efforts. The UWAB Program offers a Graduate Certificate in Astrobiology, and has also partnered with eight UWAB-affiliated Schools and Departments to develop a curriculum that results in a Dual-Title PhD in Astrobiology. For more information about the program and how to apply for the Graduate Certificate or Dual-Title PhD in Astrobiology, click here.

IGERT/Big Data

The IGERT program brings together departments and students to educate an interdisciplinary cohort of scientists. IGERT is a PhD program with two key goals:

  1. Education and Training: To produce a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists, versed in computer science, statistics and the domain sciences; capable of developing and using Big Data tools and models that will enable fundamental discoveries in a data intensive world.
  2. Cyberinfrastructure Development: To develop and release open-source tools and Cloud services that can be deployed and utilized by researchers across many domains for managing, analyzing and visualizing Big Data.

For more information about the program and how to apply, click here.

DEADLINES

All materials for each applicant (other than fees) are collected and filed in the office of the Astronomy Department. Every application in our office files must be complete to be guaranteed full consideration.Please be sure that your full name appears on every item you mail to us. Do NOT include social security numbers. The deadline for completion of the application for entrance in Fall is December 15. All application materials must be received by this date.

You may check the status of your application online by logging back into your application or by email. You may send inquiries to the Graduate Program Adviser (grad@astro.washington.edu, 206-543-9590, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. pacific time). The UW Astronomy Department conducts pre-admissions interviews. You will be notified if selected for an interview. Questions will focus on your research, preparation for graduate school, and interest in attending UW. Please note that not all admitted applicants will be interviewed prior to acceptance, and that an interview does not guarantee admissions.

The Department Chair normally starts sending out formal admission acceptance letters in mid March. Admission letters continue until the class of incoming students has been filled; please be patient. We aim to finalize all admissions decisions on or before April 15. The University of Washington is one of many institutions that signed a Council of Graduate Schools Resolution agreeing not to compel or pressure prospective graduate students to respond to our offers prior to April 15. The general spirit of the Resolution is that students should have an opportunity to consider more than one offer and should have until April 15 to do so, that institutions and students should be able to view acceptances in force after April 15 as binding, that everyone should know what the rules are, and that an offer by the institution and its acceptance by the student constitute an agreement which both expect to honor (http://www.cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/CGS_Resolution.pdf; 7/29/2013). For more information on this resolution please see http://www.cgsnet.org.

HOW ARE DECISIONS MADE

What follows is brief summary into the admissions process in our department. We hope that it provides some insight!

Applications are carefully reviewed by a small group of faculty whose membership changes annually. There is no magic formula or set of rigorous criteria that we use to rank the applications. The final selection of accepted students is made by a consensus of the selection committee using their best judgment.

We often find that the best 10-15 applications are very nearly equal, so the final selections of new students are unavoidably (and uncomfortably) marginal and difficult. Consequently, we cannot accept all of the deserving applicants.

What are the features of an application that help it to rise to the top? People on the admissions committee have given slightly different responses to this question through the years. Here are the most important considerations:

  • Preparation in physics and math must be strong.
  • Letters of recommendations from persons who are in a good position to assess your activities are reviewed in detail. We are looking for confirmation of commitment, creativity, maturity, professional achievements, leadership, or other factors which go beyond grades and GRE scores in determining an applicant’s graduate and long-term prospects.
  • There must be concrete evidence of exceptional achievement. Most important is achievement in physics, astronomy, or other sciences. Distinctions in other fields are also of considerable value, such as community volunteer activities, music and arts, sports, unusual travel, K-12 education, etc.
  • Undergraduate applicants should have exploited available opportunities at their institutions to be involved in research, or to engage in significant extracurricular activities.
  • A sense of the applicant’s enthusiasm and commitment to a graduate program in astronomy must be obvious.
  • Strong writing skills must be demonstrated. Not only the content and form, but also the accuracy, clarity, and conciseness of all written materials are evaluated.
  • Because the graduate program requires that all graduate students serve as teaching assistants, verbal skills will be considered, especially for applicants from countries where English is not commonly used in the classroom.

The UW Astronomy department has decided to drop the requirement of the Physics GRE for graduate admission, based on evidence that it does not correlate strongly with long term success, and following the American Astronomical Society recommendation. We hope that even small changes like this will help to create a more equitable admissions process, and a more just field. If you wish to submit evidence to demonstrate subject mastery that is not a required part of the application, please feel free to do so.

We aim for uniform excellence in the quality of admitted students. Such professional parity is necessary for building program coherence and a strong esprit de corps. At the same time we maintain diversity among graduate students, because students and faculty alike benefit from the various viewpoints brought into our program (see our page on diversity for more details). International applicants who meet the Graduate School requirements for English proficiency are considered without prejudice.

Since many excellent applicants come from small colleges where astronomy is not taught beyond the introductory level, we do not consider astronomy courses as any sort of a requirement for admission. (We teach all of the necessary content in the graduate program.) On the other hand, success in scientific research experience and/or advanced astronomy classes definitely strengthen an application.

For some applicants, we will schedule a pre-admissions interview. This interview is an opportunity for the committee to learn more about your research experience, interest in the UW graduate program, and your preparation for graduate school. An interview does not guarantee admission and in some cases we may admit applicants without an interview. You will be notified if an interview is requested.

Apply Now

This is the official online application. The deadline to complete the application and send in all required materials is December 15. Every applicant to Astronomy’s Graduate Program must formally apply to the Graduate School of the University of Washington. Although all acceptance decisions are made within the Astronomy Department, the Graduate School determines the admissions procedures and impose certain minimum admissions requirements.

Required Materials

+ Official scores from: General GREs, TOEFL (international students)
+ Resumé/CV
+ 1-page statement of purpose
+ 3 letters of recommendations
+ Unofficial transcripts
Please see the application process for US citizens and international students for detailed instructions/requirements.

 

UW Equal Opportunity Statement

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.