Congratulations for surviving your second year of graduate school! So what does the Astronomy Department have in store for you next? Well, first you are all cordially invited to the annual and very exclusive Qualifier Event that we host each August. The Qualifier will be graded and the results discussed at a Faculty meeting that will occur on a Monday in mid-September, probably the 11th or 18th. You should each receive a personalized letter discussing your results by the end of September.
During the third year you should all ideally make the transition to full-time directed thesis research with the advisor of your choice. Most of you should have two or fewer remaining courses to take, and it is usually best to finish these as soon as possible. You should also register for ASTR898 with your research advisor. You can continue on with your Second-Year Project advisor, or move on to something new. Please come talk to me if you are uncertain about what sort of research you want to do next. And if you don't like research, definitely come talk to me!
The Astronomy Department is pleased to offer you all Master's Degrees at the end of the fall semester. Ten UMD classes and a scholarly paper (you knew that Second-Year Project would be good for something!) is all that is required. While the Master's Degree is not a necessary prerequisite for a Ph.D., the extra effort to get the Master's is minimal, and I strongly recommend that you all go for it! There are a couple of forms that you need to fill out by mid-semester so that the degrees can be conferred at December graduation. If one of you can locate the deadlines and forms (ask a Fourth-Year!) and let me know, I'll pass the info on to the rest of the group.