Skip to main content

Ph.D. in Astrophysics Admissions

The department offers a Ph.D. degree in astrophysics for students interested in the various research areas of observational, theoretical, and computational astronomy: exoplanets, stars, black holes, the Milky Way, galaxies, large-scale structures, and cosmology.

The department’s existing research programs allow students to benefit from the following opportunities:

Applying to the Program

Applications for Fall 2023 open on August 1, 2022 and must be submitted through the Graduate School Application Portal. The application deadline is January 15, 2023.

Strong applications to the astrophysics Ph.D. program include:

  • The student’s academic record from prior institutions.
  • A statement of purpose that details the student’s interests in graduate school and beyond.
  • Three or more reference letters that provide insight into an applicant’s prior experience, motivation for graduate school, and aptitude for research.

GRE scores are not required. For questions about the Ph.D. program or the application process, please contact our Program Coordinator, Don Pickert.

Application checklist

  • Start your admissions application online.
  • Compose and submit a statement of purpose (1000-2000 words). We want to know about your motivations and your research interests.
  • Request three letters of recommendation. Do this early to give your recommenders plenty of time to send in their letters.
  • Order official transcripts of grades from all institutions that you have attended.
  • Do not submit GRE scores (General nor Subject). They are not required and will not be considered.
  • If you are an international student, submit your TOEFL score (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS or Duolingo score. Note that Vanderbilt requires a minimum TOEFL score of 570 on the paper-based test or 88 on the computer-based test, 6.5 on IELTS or 120 on Duolingo.
    The TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo requirement may be waived for those international applicants who have a degree from an English-speaking institution.
    If you’ve received an undergraduate degree from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction, and if you’ve studied in residence at that institution for at least 3 years, you’re exempt from the English language test requirement and are not required to submit a language test score. You should provide us with a letter from your college or university stating that and add that to your application file.
  • If you meet the Graduate School’s eligibility criteria, apply for an application fee waiver*.
  • Finalize and submit your entire application by January 15, 2023.

*Note that a small number of additional waivers will be granted at the discretion of the department based on recruitment priorities and extenuating circumstances. You may request an application fee waiver directly from the department only after you have submitted your application and confirmed that a fee is due (i.e., that you are not eligible for a waiver from the Graduate School). To request a fee waiver, please email the Director of Graduate Studies for Physics, Jon Bird.


Financial Aid                        Plan Your Ph.D.                          Apply Now