1. Introduction 3 1 Guiding Principles 4



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Department of

Astronomy and Astrophysics




Graduate Student Handbook

Version: 2016-07-27



Table of Contents


1. Introduction 3

1.1 Guiding Principles 4

1.2 Goals 5

1.3 Overview of Graduate Student Opportunities in the Department 6

2. General Student Information 7

2.1 Contacting the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics 7

2.2 Who's Who 7

2.3 Committees and Advisors 8

2.4 Health Services and Insurance 9

3. Procedures for the Entering Student 10

3.1 Housing 10

3.2 Keys, ID Cards, Computer Accounts, and Forms 11

3.3 Course Registration 11

4. International Students 12

4.1 English Language Competency 12

4.2 Guidelines on F-1 Visas 12

5. Degree Requirements 13

5.1 PhD Requirements 14

5.2 English Proficiency 14

5.3 Policies Concerning Graduate Courses 14

5.4 Three-Credit Course Offerings 15

5.5 One-Credit Course Offerings 16

5.6 Candidacy Examination 16

5.7 Comprehensive Examination 17

5.8 Residency Requirements and Continuous Registration 19

5.9 PhD Thesis and Final Oral Examination 19

5.10 Master’s Degree Requirements 19

5.11 Dual-Title Degree in Astrobiology 19

5.12 Graduate Minor in Computational Science 20

6. Your Path Through Graduate School 20

6.1 Summer Prior to the First Year 20

6.2 Fall of the First Year 20

6.3 Spring of the First Year 22

6.4 Summer of the First Year 22

6.5 The Second Year 22

6.6 The Third Year 23

6.7 Subsequent Years 24

6.8 Progress Reports and Oversight 25

7. Course Descriptions 26

7.1 Astronomy Graduate Courses 26

7.2 Courses in Physics and Allied Fields 30

7.3 Courses in Teaching and Pedagogy 33

8. Policies for Academic Classes 33

8.1 Course Registration 33

8.2 Assessment and Examinations 33

8.3 Grading 34

8.4 Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness 34

8.5 Academic Integrity 35

9. Guidelines for Teaching Assistants 35

9.1 General Guidelines for All TAs 35

9.1.1 General Duties of a TA 36

9.1.2 Materials Needed by a Teaching Assistant 37

9.2 Specific Guidelines for Laboratory TAs 37

9.2.1 Laboratory Duties 37

9.2.2 Rules for the Labs 38

9.3 Relationships Between TAs and Students 38

9.4 Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness 39

9.5 Instructional Development Program 39

10. Assistantships and Support 39

10.1 TAs and RAs 39

10.2 Awards and Fellowships 40

10.2.1 Penn State Fellowships and Awards 40

10.2.2 Fellowships from External Agencies 41

11. Research Facilities and Resources 42

11.1 Library Facilities 42

11.2 Computing Facilities 42

11.3 Observing Facilities 43

11.3.1 The Hobby-Eberly Telescope 43

11.3.2 Davey Roof Telescopes 43

11.3.3 Chandra X-ray Observatory 43

11.3.4 Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer 43

11.4 Interdisciplinary Research Centers 44

11.4.1 Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos 44

11.4.2 Astrobiology Research Center 44

11.4.3 Center for Astrostatistics 44



12. Other Topics 44

12.1 Colloquia, Seminars, and Other Gatherings 44

12.2 Printing and Photocopying 45

12.3 Telephones 46

12.4 Graduate Research Exhibition 46

12.5 American Astronomical Society 46

Appendix A
University Information and Regulations for Graduate Students 48


Appendix B Academic Integrity Policy
50


1 Introduction 50

2 Faculty Conduct 50

3 Student Conduct 51

4 Infractions 51

Appendix C Department Forms and Checklists 55

Petition for Astronomy & Astrophysics Graduate Degree Requirements 56

Assessment of English Competency: Oral 57

Assessment of English Competency: Written 58

Ph.D. Course Requirements Checklist 59

Graduate Handbook


Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
The Pennsylvania State University



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