Doctorate in Astrophysics

About the program

The aim of the PhD in astrophysics is to train high-level researchers that in the future will make full use of the existing scientific infrastructure for astronomy in Chile. This includes both observational astrophysicists to generate and implement science projects that make direct use of the telescopes, as theorists whose work is the physical-mathematical modeling of the observed phenomena.

A Doctor in Astrophysics will be able to perform original, innovative and relevant research in the general area of ​​astrophysical. This implies a critical capacity, well developed independence of judgment and great capacity to learn for yourself. In particular, it will require a strong knowledge base and understanding of physics and their application to the astronomical phenomena. It also includes a wide culture in astrophysics and in the most important problems of this science today, along with a detailed knowledge of a particular field of the area.

Application dates: from October 2-26 of 2018 to start in march of 2019.


The program of studies for a doctorate in astrophysics include:

  • A series of three minimum courses in Astrophysics (Physical Processes in Astrophysics, Advanced Stellar Astrophysics and Advanced Extragalactic Astrophysics), often dictates bi-annual. All students in the program must take these three courses at some point in their first four semesters. The first covers matters of physics that are essential for the analysis of astrophysical phenomena, but are usually not covered in the required depth (in physics courses), such as (classical and quantum) processes of interaction between radiation and material and gas dynamics and plasmas. The other two courses deepen subjects of astrophysics into two main areas, establishing close contact with current research.
  • An astrophysics seminar, in which all students of the program, together with a coordinating teacher and some other professors and postdoctoral researchers, will examine current topics of interest in astrophysics.
  • Three semester modules Research Project. In these, students will do an original research in astrophysics, under the supervision of a teacher.Each concludes with a written report and a public oral presentation.The student must takeat least two different jobs, under the supervision of different teachers (at most two modules will be dedicated to the same topic). It is desirable that at least one of these papers home to an article in which the student has a relevant role and is accepted for publicationin an international journal.
  • Three Elective Courses to be taken by students in consultation with the Graduate Committee, which should be minimum courses in Physics or from the current Ph.D. program in Astrophysics. In addition to coursesin physics, it shall be made with some frequency courses on specific subjects of astrophysics that maybe of interest to students, for example, Galactic Astronomy, Cosmology, Supernovas, Interstellar Medium, neutron stars or Extrasolar Planets.
  • Qualifying Exam: To be given during the first year students enrolled in the Ph.D. program. This is a written examination and will include topics in physics and astronomy. Its objective is to evaluate that students know in depth and properly handle the most fundamental subjects of these sciences, with the broad perspective that is expected of a graduate student.


You can see the program here. 

To formally start his doctoral thesis, the student should be Ph.D. candidate, having met the following requirements:

  • Have approved or validated the minimum courses of the curriculum program.    
  • Passing the Qualifying Examination for Ph.D.
  • Having approved the draft thesis by committees and Graduate Thesis.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English language by taking the TOEFL or other test approved by the Graduate Committee, obtaining a score that ensures the Committee that the student can fully function in their scientific life in this language.

Thesis requirements

The doctoral thesis must be an important contribution to knowledge in the field of observational and/or theoretical astrophysics. It must also be a logical work, dealing with a subject or a series of related topics. You must place the work within the larger context of the specialty, explain their scientific motivations, describe the techniques used, results and conclusions. It is expected to arise publishable work in astronomy magazines upscale, indexed in the ISI and subject to the system of refereeing. In at least one the candidate must be the main author.

The publication of such work may be before or after the presentation of the thesis to the Faculty. It should be understood, however, that the acceptance of manuscripts for refereed journals does not constitute the acceptance of the thesis by the Faculty. It will allow to notice the thesis as a juxtaposition of individual jobs where there is a logical continuity.

The thesis and oral defense will be evaluated by the Thesis Committee appointed by the Graduate Committee of the Faculty and integrated by the Dean (or the Director of Graduate Studies, who represents), the Head of mention, Thesis Professor, and two Correctors Professors.

The format in which it the doctoral must be written is described in this document.

Graduation requirements

Students will graduate from the Master's or doctoral program after they have passed all the credits of the program in question, including those pertaining to the thesis work, but not including the presentation and defense of the thesis. The graduation requirement is the written submission and public presentation of the thesis and the defense of it against the Thesis Committee.

Entry requirements

May apply to the Astrophysics Ph.D. graduates in physics or astronomy or who are in possession of a related degree or equivalent level. To accept your application, the Graduate Committee will evaluate each applicant motivation, previous performance as an undergraduate and/or graduate basic training to successfully take mandatory classes graduate program. The Committee will  request to each applicant, at least:

  • A letter with a detailed description of your motivation to train as a researcher in astrophysics. In the case of applicants to the master's program, the letter should include a paragraph about its financing agreement with one of the teachers of the program.
  • Their official academic records, translated into spanish if necessary and conversion of the grading scale system the Universidad Católica.
  • Your title or academic degree certificate or certified photocopy notarized. Students who have not obtained their degree or diploma when they apply must submit a certificate from their academic institution attesting that they are able to obtain it before starting the graduate program and send the official certificate when you have obtained.
  • His Curriculum Vitae, including list of publications if any.
  • Not less than two and no more than three reference letters in spanish or english language written by people who can give confidential information about the candidate. Which should arrive together with the application in a sealed envelope with signature/security seal or separate mailing, or by electronic means that the Committee deems appropriate. It is expected that the person sending the references of the applicant is a teacher or tutor of this, being able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the applicant.
  • Two color passport photos and identity card number or passport.
  • Photocopy of identity card or passport.
  • Any other information that the student would like to add, for example the result of some standardized as the GRE in case the applicant has taken the test.

From this background, the Graduate Committee will prepare an order of merit of the candidates of sufficient quality for the program, and will offer a number of candidates according to the capacity of the Faculty to accept new students.

To register you will also need:

  • Photocopy of health insurance card (FONASA, ISAPRE or other). The extrajeros Students must have a valid health insurance.

For general information on the application process to the Masters of the Universidad Católica you can consult here or you can write to this email:


The Faculty of Physics and the Institute of Astrophysics have several options to financially support their graduate students. The scholarships are listed below mainly apply to doctoral students.

Some teachers have specific information about possible research projects on the link "Research Opportunities" on these pages, although the details might be outdated.

  • CONICYT Schorlarship: Since november 2003, the Astrophysics Ph.D. it is accredited by the Comisión Nacional de Acreditación de Postgrado (CONAP), therefore chilean or foreign students with definitive residence in Chile can apply for CONICYT scholarships, after they have been admitted to this program. This students will require the application before considered for DIPUC scholarships.
  • VRI Scholarships: The Faculty of Physics, through its Graduate Committee, assigned two classes VRI Scholarship, funded by the Research Centers and Graduate University. These grants are available only to PhD students that for regulatory reasons can not apply for scholarships from CONICYT, or who have done and have resulted rejected. Scholarships are awarded to students newly admitted PhD (assistants fellows) and students who have passed the qualifying examination (instructors Fellows) for a minimum of 2 semesters and a maximum of 4 semesters each. These grants involve some teaching load, and cover up to 90% of tuition, plus an allowance for living expenses. More information here.
  • "Proyecto de fondos basales" Scholarship: Dedicated to advanced students working on topics related to the research areas of the Project Basal "Centro de Astrofísica y Tecnologías Afines."
  • MECESUP Scholarship: Dedicated to doctoral students for up to four years. Also they consider funding for internships abroad. For more information you can look here.
  • Andes Scholarship: Our graduate students can research internships up to 4 semesters at universities such as Princeton, Johns Hopkins or other .
  • Research assistantships: For students working on issues related to research areas of professors who have individual FONDECYT projects, there is the possibility of supplementing their incomes with specific research assistantships funded by such projects. These amounts vary, FONDECYT still limited at an annual maximum of $1.300.000 pesos.
  • Teaching Assistantships: Graduate students have the option of working as teaching assistants in lab courses, undergraduate or graduate, or as assistants in the Undergraduate Computer Room. The amounts of these assistantships range from $150.000 to $ 210.000 pesos per semester.
  • International Scholarships: Students with citizenship from other countries may be eligible for specific grants that vary by country. One of the more general scholarships for citizens of the Americas are the scholarships of the OEA, covering tuition fees (100%) and maintenance. Typically the maintenance grant is $500 per month. These grants must be handled by students in their home countries with the support of the graduate committee of the Faculty of Physics.
  • Funding for conferences: Graduate students can apply for various funding sources to present papers at international conferences or workshops. Depending on the progress of their work can apply for CONICYT, SOCHIAS or UC funding (to apply to this last fund you must fill this form).