Graduate Admissions

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program. All the basic information you need to complete an application to the NMSU graduate astronomy program is available on this web site and at NMSU Graduate Admissions.

Please note that our admissions process requires documents in electronic format. This includes application forms, personal statements, unofficial transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

* NOTE: GRE general and subject exams are NOT required for NMSU Astronomy. See items #4 below.

Required Materials – Deadline: January 15

There are several components to a complete application:

  1. Application to the Astronomy Graduate Program and the Graduate School

  2. Statement of interest

  3. Transcripts

  4. Not required for applications for Fall 2020 admissions. See below. Official GRE Scores (General Exam, the GRE Physics subject exam is NOT required)

  5. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Details for each of these components are given below:

  1. Application: For admission to the NMSU Astronomy Graduate Program, you must apply through the NMSU Graduate School electronic application system.  Through that system (called Slate) you will enter your personal data, list your recommenders, upload documents, and pay the application fee.

  2. Statement of interest: In order to help us evaluate how you might fit into our department, please provide a brief description of your research interests.  If you have direct experience with astronomical research, then tell us about the specific problem(s) that you have worked on, what your responsibilities were, what you learned from the process, and how this engagement inspired you to want to apply to graduate school. Also, let us know if you have experience writing papers, delivering presentations or posters, or attending meetings.  Alternatively, if you have not been directly involved in research, please tell us which classes, instructors, or other experiences have inspired you to apply to our program.  As you write, keep in mind that we are looking to understand how your interests and experiences might be a good match for NMSU’s research groups.  A CV is not required, but is generally helpful, so feel free to upload one as a separate document.

  3. Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the initial application; official versions are required for admitted candidates).

  4. The General GRE and the Physics subject GRE exams are NOT required by the Department of Astronomy any longer. The scores will not be considered in any part of the admissions process. If you have taken the exam and asked that your scores be forwarded to NMSU, they will not be reviewed.

  5. Three letters of recommendation. Please make sure to enter the names and contact information for three letter writers in your application. A notification will be sent to them by the system to submit their letters before the deadline.

Packet Verification

Once you have submitted all of your application materials, we recommend that you wait ten days before confirming that everything has been received. You will also be responsible for checking with your letter writers to see that they have each sent in a letter of reference for you in a timely fashion. Be sure that all three of your letters of recommendation have been received, as well as the materials that you sent directly to us, by the February 1 deadline. For final packet verification, we recommend direct contact with our Head of Department Staff, Ms. Ofelia Ruiz. You can email her at oruiz (domain, or call her at 575.646.4438.

Contact and Correspondence

We maintain a single email account for all admissions-related correspondence, and request that you direct all email messages regarding the application process through this account: gradapps (domain A member of the Graduate Admissions Committee or another appropriate member of the Astronomy Department will respond promptly to all queries. If you send an email directly to a specific member of the department, please Cc: the above account on your message. (This will help us to insure that all email messages receive a prompt response.)

Correspondence may include specific questions about our graduate astronomy program, assistance setting up direct contact with a current graduate student to learn about graduate life at NMSU, or any other related topic. If you wish to call or write to a specific person, please consider contacting one of the following individuals.

  • Dr. Jason Jackiewicz, Chair of Graduate Admissions
    (phone 575.646.1699, email: jasonj; domain

  • Ms. Ofelia Ruiz, Department Staff Head
    (phone 575.646.4438 (email: oruiz; domain

  • Dr. Jon Holtzman, Department Head
    (phone 575.646.8181, email: holtz; domain

For information on additional contacts, please browse the directory information.

Mailing Address

Graduate Admissions Committee
Department of Astronomy
New Mexico State University
P. O. Box 30001, MSC 4500
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8001

For overnight services such as FedEx or UPS, replace P. O. Box 30001, MSC 4500 with 1320 Frenger Mall above.

Researching the NMSU Astronomy Program

Each of our research groups is described on a central research page explaining the broad goals of the group and listing the group members. All research staff (PhDs and students alike) members maintain an individual research page as well, describing the work that they do themselves (so you can read about many of the projects that we work on at NMSU by clicking on the names of people listed in the directory pages). The Observatories section will tell you about a number of the observatory facilities that NMSU astronomers often use.

The calendar lists talks that will be given in the department throughout the current semester (including our colloquium series with guest speakers, our weekly informal lunch talks, research group meetings, and the journal club astroph discussions).

The entries under the Public Events heading provide an overview of public outreach efforts through the department.

The Graduate studies menu holds lots of information about the graduate courses that you will attend and the undergraduate courses that you might teach, as well as many details to help you with the process of applying to NMSU (be sure to read through the pages maintained by the department graduate students, including this FAQ). A nice resource for detailed information is the Graduate Program Handbook.

The Directory pages also list phone numbers and email addresses for all department members so that they are easy to contact; don’t hesitate to call upon one of us if you have questions and you think that we can help.