Interdisciplinary Tracks

Graduate students in Astronomy have the opportunity to be a part of the interdisciplinary programs in which the Astronomy Department participates. These programs have their own admission requirements, so please see the referenced sites for more information.


The UW Astrobiology (UWAB) Program is a leader in the fields of astrobiology education, research, and training. It was established as the first astrobiology program in the nation more than a decade ago. Participating Astronomy faculty include MeadowsAgolBarnesBrownlee, and Quinn. Along with Astronomy, the departments of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, Earth & Space Sciences, Environmental & Forest Sciences, Microbiology and Oceanography participate in this program. There is an opportunity to earn either a Graduate Certificate or a Dual-Title Ph.D. in Astrobiology. These programs require additional coursework and research. See the Astrobiology website for more details and application instructions.

Big Data

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Big Data and Data Science is a new program with the goals of producing interdisciplinary scientists capable of developing and using Big Data tools and models, as well as developing Big Data cyber-infrastructure. Participating Astronomy faculty include ConnollyBarnesIvezicJuricMeadows, and Quinn. With its involvement in large surveys, the Astronomy department is a key member of this program, along with Oceanography, Computer Science, Statistics, Genome Sciences, and Chemical Engineering. There is an opportunity to earn a Ph.D. option by completing additional coursework.

Course requirements

A student pursuing the Advanced Data Science option is required to satisfactorily complete three of the following core courses in Big Data:

  • Data Management: CSE 544.
  • Machine Learning: CSE 546 or STAT 535
  • Data Visualization: CSE512
  • Statistics: STAT 509 (or STAT 512-513)


Astronomy graduate students who choose to enroll in the Advanced Data Science Option must have approval of their faculty advisor. Email this approval to the Graduate Program Director (

See the IGERT webpage for more details and application instructions.