Astronomy Graduate Program

Welcome to the UVic graduate program in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The department has strong links with the nearby Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics (HAA) Research Centre making Victoria one of the largest concentrations of astronomers in Canada.  20 HAA astronomers are currently adjunct members of the University and available for graduate supervision, leading to expanded opportunities for student research.  Notably, our connections with HAA facilitate research opportunities in astronomical instrumentation, allowing students the opportunity to combine hardware, software and science applications through co-supervision with a regular faculty member.

Uvic hosts an NSERC CREATE training program in New Technologies for Canadian Observatories (NTCO), that is ideal for graduate students in astronomy, physics, engineering, and computer science, who are seeking hands-on experience with cutting-edge technologies.   More information on the NTCO program and the application procedure can be found here.

In recognition of the outstanding research opportunities in astronomy in and near Victoria, BC, UVIC has an Astronomy Research Centre (ARC) which brings together world-renowned researchers in astrophysics, engineering, computation, and instrumentation working at the nearby NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre and the TRIUMF particle accelerator centre.

Students entering our graduate programs should have a strong undergraduate background in Physics and Mathematics. This background should be roughly equivalent to the physics and mathematics requirements for the BSc Honours degree in Physics and Astronomy at UVic. Additional undergraduate courses and experience in Astronomy/Astrophysics are very useful, but not essential.

Most students are admitted initially to an MSc program, and complete the MSc degree prior to embarking on a PhD. In contrast to the system at U.S. universities, the MSc degree is a real research degree, with a thesis and a research project that usually is publishable.


It may be possible to transfer to a PhD program, without completing an MSc. A decision on the PhD transfer is made by the student's Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the student following the guidelines for MSc to PhD transfer.

Graduate students in astronomy may be supervised by faculty at UVic, or by staff astronomers at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. This large pool of supervision talent gives Victoria one of, if not the, largest concentrations of astronomers in Canada, and makes UVic an extremely attractive place to do graduate work in astronomy!

On admission, each MSc student is assigned a provisional supervisor. However, it is understood that some students will elect to be supervised by faculty other than their assigned provisional supervisors. New graduate students are strongly encouraged to talk with interested UVic faculty and NRC Herzberg astronomers about opportunities for supervision and funding. Students should reach a final decision on supervision within 6 months of arrival at UVic.

After the first 8 months of enrolment, it is necessary for a Supervisory Committee to be appointed. Setting up this committee is the duty of the supervisor, in consultation with the student. The composition of the Supervisory Committee is different for MSc and PhD students, and is described in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar (where a great deal of other fascinating information will be found!).

Courses should be chosen in consultation with the student's supervisor.

Program Requirements

Upon graduation, our PhD graduates have taken up a variety of positions, such as:

  • faculty/lecturers at universities and colleges,
  • postdoctoral fellows/research associates,
  • observatory-based staff astronomers,
  • software specialists,
  • instrument specialists,

as well as a range of non-astronomy careers, such as finance, consulting, data scientists and climate modelling.

For a list of recent graduates, please refer to our Listing of Theses and Dissertations.