PhD in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences

The INCT at UDA offers a great opportunity to talented students to perform research activities and to obtain and PhD degree in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences. Our students have the chance through the INCT faculty, to apply for observing time in all world-class astronomical facilities and instruments located in Chile (e.g. VLT, ALMA, Gemini, etc.). Our PhD program provides an excelente graduate training that enables our graduates to perform original independent research, in any of the research lines available at INCT.

The academic program starts in March every year and it generally admits up to four (4) students per year. The expected duration of the doctorate program in four (4) years, of which the first one is dedicated solely to mandatory and some elective courses. To advance towards the second (2nd) year, the student must take and approve an oral qualifier examination to officially become a doctoral candidate. During the first (1st) semester of the second (2nd) year, an additional elective course is taken and the thesis work is started for the rest three (3) years of the program.

Currently  (2020), our PhD program is under an “accreditation” process by the Comisión Nacional de Acreditación (CNA).

Profile of graduates

 The graduate of the PhD in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences from Universidad de Atacama has advanced knowledge in astronomy and planetary sciences. Likewise, she/he is prepared to include the latest knowledge in the area in their scientific work, working in interaction with other researchers, and using the existing astronomical infrastructure in Chile and the world.

Likewise, our graduates will be able to generate and execute autonomous and original scientific projects, either individually or integrating work teams in national and international networks. The Ph.D. program promotes among its graduates the values that represent the motto of the Universidad de Atacama: cooperation, responsibility, commitment, tolerance and pluralism, evidenced in an active participation in the development of the region of Atacama and the country, with
critical and analytical thinking and scientific rigor. The graduate of this program is characterized by a solid integral formation with emphasis on frontier research, uniting two areas of strategic interest for the region: astronomy and planetary sciences.

Working areas

Graduates are expected to participate in research work with national and international teams, developing frontier research and professional intervention proposals in the fields of stellar and galactic astronomy, extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, and planetary sciences and exoplanets, considering that the Atacama region has the potential to become a natural scientific laboratory with unique characteristics for high-impact research.

PhD Professors


  • Jaime Araya Vargas, PhD Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
  • Carlos Ferreira Lopes, PhD Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.
  • Lauri Haikala, PhD Ruprecht-Karls Universitat, Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Christopher Haines, PhD University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom.
  • Ivan Lacerna, PhD Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Lorenzo Morelli, PhD Universitá degli Studi di Padova, Italy.
  • Marco Muñoz Gutierrez, PhD Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.
  • Felipe Olivares, PhD Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany.
  • Mario Soto, PhD Leiden Observatory, Leiden Universiteit, The Netherlands.
  • Jeremy Tregloan-Reed,  PhD, University of Keele, United Kingdom
  • Katherine Vieira PhD , Yale University, Estados Unidos de América


  • José Antonio Belinchón, PhD Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
  • Giovanni Leone, PhD Lancaster University/ PhD Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH.
  • Rómulo Oses, PhD Universidad de Concepción, Chile.

Bibliography: Currently, the INCT has specialized bibliography, with more than 150 books, that can be browsed and loaned through the mechanisms established by the UDA Library.

Decree of creation of the PhD Program Click this link to download the decree.

PhD Relevant Rules:

Ph.D. Scholarships in Astronomy & Planetary Sciences at the University of Atacama 2024:

The Instituto de Astronomía y Ciencias Planetarias de Atacama (INCT) at the Universidad de Atacama (UDA), in Copiapó (Chile) invites applicants for four (4) Ph.D. positions in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences to start in April 2024.

The positions are open to candidates from any country. The successful candidates must have a degree (or equivalent) in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, geology, or any related topic to planetary sciences by the closing date of applications. Positions will be available across a range of fields of research where the INCT is active, including the solar system, exoplanets, planetary geology, star formation, Galactic structure, and extragalactic astronomy. Students must manage basic English and be willing to publish in peer review journals. Students will have access to apply for the Chilean telescope time of ESO, ALMA, Gemini, LCO, CTIO, among others.

University of Atacama Ph.D. students are fully funded for four years (subject to passing a qualifying exam after 18 months). The salary is set to 650,000 CLP net per month.

INCT provides a stimulating, international environment where Spanish and English coexist as common languages. The University of Atacama is located in Copiapó, the capital city of the Atacama region. Copiapó is located in the Atacama desert, and the region offers a unique variety of natural and wildlife attractions.

For additional information write to

Documents for Ph.D. Application 2024

The following documents must be sent in a single pdf file to

All the applications will receive full consideration if arrived by September 28th, 2023. Later applications will be received until the positions are filled.

The required documents are:

  • Cover letter indicating the reasons for applying to our PhD program.
  • CV with current information (2 pages maximum) and also a publication list.
  • Proof of degree (the legalized copy or original must be presented if accepted).
  • Undergraduate list of courses, including their final marks.

In addition to the above, 2 recommendation letters must be sent directly to before the deadline.


PhD coordinator: Iván Lacerna
Instituto de Astronomía y Ciencias Planetarias de Atacama
Address: Copayapu 485, Copiapó 1531772, Atacama, Chile
Phone number: (+56) 52 225 5938