Ipacvisitinggraduatefellowships

IPAC Visiting Graduate Fellowship

Program Description


Established in 2013, the IPAC Visiting Graduate Fellowship (VGF) offers several six-month positions to graduate students who want to conduct PhD-level astronomical research in close association with IPAC scientists. Students from U.S. institutions gain applicable research experience with leaders in the scientific areas of exoplanets, galactic and extra-galactic studies, stellar formation, cosmology, and more.

If selected, you will enjoy the following benefits of being an IPAC Visiting Graduate Fellow:

  • Gain hands-on learning and experience while augmenting your own post-graduate work,
  • Leverage opportunities to work with data from high-profile missions and surveys, including Spitzer, TESS, Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, SPHEREx, Euclid, GOALS, PHANGS-HST,  and Herschel, and
  • Make connections with the professional astronomical community in Pasadena, California, home of Caltech (where IPAC is based) and nearby NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Visiting Graduate Fellows work at the IPAC office on the California Institute of Technology campus in Pasadena, California. The program duration is nominally February to August, with some flexibility on the start and end dates, during which a monthly stipend is provided. The exact number of fellowships awarded each year is decided based on available funding.

Application Instructions


The call for 2021 applications is now open. Applications are due by 4pm PDT August 21, 2020.

The Visiting Graduate Program's highest value is the participation of our students in person.  The 2021 program will be assessed later in the fall to understand how the Covid-19 situation affects this option.

Eligible applicants must fulfill all of the following requirements: 

  • Hold United States citizenship, national, or permanent resident status by the application deadline.
  • Currently enrolled in a PhD program in Astronomy or Physics.
  • Should have completed all classwork for a graduate program degree by December of the year the application is submitted.
  • Be available to spend 6 months at IPAC, nominally February to August, with some flexibility in the starting date.

Each applicant must submit:

  • A brief (~2 page) letter of introduction that includes:
    • Your current status as a graduate student and expected completion date
    • Description of your past research experience and current research interests
    • Please rank your top two IPAC research project choices and include your reasons for how they match your research interests
    • The approximate start date of your visit (nominally February 2021)
  • A one-page CV that includes experience you may have with astronomical and image processing software packages (e.g., Python, IDL, HIPE, AIPS, etc.)

Apply Now


In addition, we ask that a current professor or academic advisor familiar with the applicant’s work upload a letter of reference (PDF) using this page. This letter should also indicate that the applicant is available to visit IPAC during the proposed period, and address how well the visit would mesh with the applicant’s graduate education.

Submit Letter


Questions? Please contact the program coordinator, Dr. Patrick Lowrance, lowrance [at] ipac.caltech.edu