Graduate Courses

Please consult the online course catalog for complete course information and descriptions.

Course registration information can be found on the JHU Public Course Search website.


Graduate courses use either letter grades or Pass/Fail as follows:

  • Required lecture courses: letter grades
  • Required seminars: Pass/Fail
  • Research courses: Pass/Fail
  • All other graduate courses: at the discretion of the instructor


There are four semesters of required classes for the physics PhD and for the astronomy and astrophysics PhD that must be passed with a grade of B- or better; graduate courses may be retaken once in case of failure. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these requirements in their first year, although they may be deferred until the second year under certain circumstances. Students who have passed an equivalent graduate course at another institution may request a waiver by contacting the JHU faculty member teaching the corresponding course and supplying all requested information (syllabi, transcripts, examples of homework and exams, etc). The requirements are as follows:

  • Involvement in research in every semester in which the student is enrolled. Students must register for one of the appropriate research courses:
    • AS.171.805 First-Year Research
    • AS.171.807 Second-Year Research
    • AS.171.801 Independent Research (Fall)
    • AS.171.802 Independent Research (Spring)
    • AS.171.803 Independent Research (Summer)
  • Completion of four semesters of required courses, passed with a grade of B- or better; graduate courses may be retaken once in case of failure.
    • Physics Track
      • AS.171.603 – Electromagnetic Theory
      • AS.171.605 & AS.171.606 – Quantum Mechanics I and Quantum Mechanics II
      • AS.171.703 – Advanced Statistical Mechanics
    • Astronomy Track
      • AS.171.611 – Stellar Structure and Evolution
      • AS.171.612 – Interstellar Medium and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
      • AS.171.613 – Radiative Astrophysics
      • AS.171.627 – Astrophysical Dynamics
      • AS.172.633 – Language of Astrophysics (seminar)
  • Satisfactory performance at the departmental research exam at the beginning of the second year
  • Identification of a thesis adviser no later than the beginning of the third year
  • Satisfactory performance at the University Graduate Board Oral Exam in the fall of the third year
  • Completion of thesis research and satisfactory performance at the thesis defense

The department offers a complete range of advanced classes in physics and astrophysics, and students are strongly encouraged to take more classes beyond these required four semesters. The specific course of study should be tailored, under consultation with the first-year adviser and/or with prospective research advisers, to the needs of each student and to their research goals.