Entry requirements

The Department of Astronomy does not require the GRE General test.

The Physics Subject GRE is optional.

In the additional academic materials section of the online application, prospective students must also upload a list of their four most advanced courses in astronomy and their two most advanced courses in mathematics, indicating textbooks (and authors) used in each course.

Prospective candidates are always welcome to visit the Center for Astrophysics to meet the faculty and students. More information is available from the department.

Months of entry


Course content

The Department of Astronomy offers a rich and varied program in theoretical, observational and experimental graduate work leading to the PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Students are not accepted for a separate master's degree program. Research is carried out at the Harvard College Observatory, which shares buildings and general facilities with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Together the two observatories constitute the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics—a large and diverse research setting which provides opportunities in nearly every branch of astrophysical work, from atomic physics to cosmology, using the full range of techniques from gamma ray detectors through radio antennas. Follow these links to learn more about research areas.

Over 360 PhD scientists are engaged in work at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA), providing students with an unusually wide choice of thesis topics and stimulating opportunities for both formal and informal learning through courses and seminars. Graduate students at Harvard benefit from this diverse environment, have access to extensive facilities, and pursue their work in a supportive and stimulating setting. We hold ourselves accountable to fostering a respectful and inclusive work environment for all students, as outlined in our Graduate Student Community Values.

The program of graduate study is designed to make Harvard PhD students first-rate researchers with a broad knowledge of astrophysics and competence in teaching. To do this, we have constructed an advising program and a set of requirements to help students develop their astrophysical understanding, and to carry through a successful thesis in a timely way.

Fees and funding

British citizens who are – or will be – graduates of British universities should check out both Kennedy Scholarships and Frank Knox Fellowships

Both of these awards offer full tuition and health insurance coverage and a generous stipend towards living expenses. They are offered annually in competition.

Please note that you will need to submit your application to either or both awards ahead of the deadline for your Harvard application. Kennedy Scholarship and Frank Knox Fellowship applications are to be made online via their websites between mid-August and late-October in the same application season as you will submit your application to Harvard. It should be noted that these awards are totally separate from, and independent of, admission to the program. Awards made at interview in London in January are provisional, pending confirmation of a place on the course.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Most Harvard doctoral programs begin with a two-year taught master.

Course contact details

Dept of Astronomy
001 617-495-3753