Frequently Asked Questions
about graduate admissions
(1) I missed the December 3 deadline for the Graduate School, but still want to apply. Am I too late?
The 3 December deadline only matters if you want to be considered for some of the financial aid programs run by the Graduate School. The astronomy department normally offers full financial aid packages of our own to every student we admit, but we encourage students to seek outside funding as well. If you don't want to be considered for any financial aid programs outside the department, you can still apply after 3 December. The deadline for receipt of admissions materials in the Astronomy Department is 15 January.
(2) Where should I send my application? To the Astronomy Department or to the Graduate School?
You can send your application to either place. If you send it directly to the Graduate School, however, it will get reviewed more quickly.
(3) I took the GRE in December. Will my scores make it in time?
This is generally not a problem. We usually get scores in plenty of time from people who take the GRE in December.
(4) I am in the process of finishing a Masters in Astrophysics. Would I be able to go straight into doing a Ph.D. and how long would this take?
We generally expect students who receive a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia to have passed through our own course of study, and do not allow students to skip over coursework required for both our M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. However, your previous experience/course work may be taken into account in putting together a specific plan of studies for you if you came here. For example, there may be some courses that you would not need to repeat here at UVa if it is felt that you have sufficient previous experience in this material.
Our rationale for our policies with regard to previous masters work is to do what is best for the student. Of particular concern is that in order to proceed to the Ph.D., you will need to pass our qualifying examination. Many questions on the Ph.D. (and M.S.) qualifying exam focus on material covered in our graduate classes, and you may be at a serious disadvantage if you have NOT gone through classes in our program.
The mean time to Ph.D. for our students is 5-6 years, including Masters Degree work.
(5) I've been offered admission for next year. By what date should I notify you of my decision? Are there any forms I need to fill out for this?
It is normal for graduate programs in astronomy to request decisions from students by April 15. It would help us greatly if you would comply with this date.
You will receive materials from the department and from the university by post. In the university materials there will be a form asking you to show your financial situation -- i.e., that you will be able to support yourself during your schooling here. Do NOT worry about this -- simply state that you are receiving full out of state tuition (or in state if you are a Virginia resident) and stipend support at the required levels from the Department of Astronomy.
(6) I've accepted admission to the department and to the school, but I am a foreign student. What do I have to do after that?
If you already have filed your financial statement with your application, then you can initiate the processing of your I-2O form for a visa. To do so, you must contact Richard Tanson, Foreign Student Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will have been included in your letter of acceptance from the Graduate School.