At the end of the second academic year a student must have:
- Completed at least 32 credits of course work (including all core courses)
- Received grades of C (or below) in no more than 3 credits' work
- Received a GPA of at least 3.0 in the core courses taken
- Satisfactorily completed at least 3 credits of Astronom 990 (Research)
- Completed an approved minor
By one academic month (i.e., excluding the summer sessions) after completing the second academic year (unless extended as described below) the student must have taken the Preliminary Examination.
Within 9 calendar months after passing the Preliminary Examination the student must pick a major professor, submit a written thesis proposal, and have it accepted by the faculty following an oral presentation
Students are expected to complete their thesis as quickly as possible, typically after a total residence or about five years. The median time to graduate is 5.5 years.
Financial support beyond that stated in the initial offer letter requires special approval from the Department. The Graduate School requires that the degree be completed within 5 years after taking the Preliminary Examination. Students are advised to check Graduate School requirements. A candidate for a Ph.D. degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after taking the Preliminary Examination is required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.