General Information

Request Information
Planetary Sciences (PHD) 
Program Description

Upon completion of the Ph.D. program in Planetary Sciences, a student will:

  • demonstrate a broad, quantitative understanding of the fundamental processes, including physical, chemical, geological, and biological, related to planetary sciences, broadly defined. Planetary sciences includes, but is not limited to, the science of the Sun, planets and their moons, other Solar System objects, and objects orbiting other stars;
  • demonstrate an in-depth understanding of a subfield related to planetary sciences (minor);
  • demonstrate ability to design, conduct, and document an independent research project that generates results that can be published in the peer-reviewed literature;
  • effectively evaluate the scientific literature essential to the research area and articulate how the research is related to and advances the discipline;
  • effectively communicate their research to peers and colleagues (e.g. peer-reviewed literature, national or international conferences and workshops, and seminars);
  • effectively communicate their science to a broader audience, including its basic aspects to a lay person.
Department/Academic Unit(s)

Planetary Sciences -

The Department of Planetary Sciences offers multidisciplinary programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in planetary sciences. Areas of specialization include, but are not restricted to, the experimental, observational, and theoretical study of planetary atmospheres; the interiors of planets and planetary satellites; asteroid and cometary astronomy and physics; meteoritics; problems of plasma physics associated with cosmic rays; the solar wind and its interaction with solar system bodies; celestial dynamics; solar physics; and investigations of the formation of the solar system and other planetary systems.

Applicants should have completed an undergraduate major in a physical science such as astronomy, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, geology, mathematics, or physics. However, admission is based on the overall demonstrated capability and preparation of the applicant.

College of Science  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Amy Pearl Brenton
Graduate Program Coordinator
Amy Pearl Brenton
Director of Graduate Studies
Shane Byrne
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Cindy T Nguyen
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements
  • General GRE score is required; subject GRE test score is recommended but not required
  • University of Arizona/PTYS graduate application
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcript(s)

More information about program requirements and admission requirements is available at these sites:

Standardized Tests

Required test(s):

Financial Aid
  • Teaching and Research Assistantships
  • Scholarships and fellowships as available
Admissions Deadlines

Online application will be available beginning August 21.

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: 11:59p.m. (MST) on December 8, 2017

International Applicants:

  • Fall: 11:59p.m. (MST) on December 8, 2017
International Conditional Admission
International applicants may be considered for conditional admission to this program at the department's discretion.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Astrophysics and Astronomy, Earth Sciences

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Minumum credits: 63
Core coursework: 12 units of core courses, consisting of 2 courses from the Physics group, and one each from the Chemistry and Geology groups:

  • PHYSICS (PTYS 505A; PTYS 505B; PTYS 517; PTYS 553)
  • GEOLOGY (PTYS 512; PTYS 554)

Exceptionally well prepared students may petition to waive the requirement to take a core course. Waiver requests are reviewed by the core course instructor in consultation with the GAAC. The student is required to demonstrate knowledge of the core course material. Waiving courses in this way does not change the number of questions that the student is required to answer in each section of the written comprehensive examination.

Language requirements: N/A
Other requirements:

  • Nine units of coursework in the minor field of study (or as required by minor department).
  • Twelve units of elective coursework (graded ABCDE) numbered PTYS 500 or above
  • Twelve additional units of elective courses numbered 500 or above (including research, field trips, independent study, PTYS elective courses, seminars, and courses offered in other departments) as approved by the major advisor.
  • Eighteen units of dissertation credit (PTYS 920; PTYS 910 thesis units may not be substituted for 920).

At least one half the units used on the Doctoral Plan of Study must be in courses in which regular grades (ABC) have been earned. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better in the PTYS core courses to be considered in good academic standing. Failure to maintain this standing results in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

Minor Requirements

Nine units (or as required by minor department) of coursework as approved by the Minor Advisor/Minor Committee.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 21%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 6.25
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 53%
Enrollment Percent Female 47%
Enrollment Percent International 28%
Enrollment Percent URM 0%

Back to statistics
Persistent link:
Last revised 16 Aug 2017