Doctorate in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics

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Come study astronomy under the wonderful skies of the Atacama desert

The Doctorate in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics is a new and highly innovative program that has been developed by the Center for Research, Technology, Education and Astronomical Outreach (CITEVA) of Universidad de Antofagasta, in conjunction with the Master’s program in Astronomy. It has three lines of research: astrophysics of galaxies, astrophysics of stellar systems, and astroinformatics, which cover the different scales of the study of the universe in combination with the advanced techniques of astroinformatics. A unique training program in the country, it is in tune with the development of contemporary and future astrophysics. This is a newly created program, aimed at anyone who has an Bachelor in Science or Engineering, or a Master’s degree or equivalent, that is focused on Astrophysics, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or Computer Science, at a level, duration and content compatible with the requirements of the Program. The duration of the program is eight semesters and requires the approval of 240 credits in fundamental and complementary curricular activities. The academic body is composed of a young, vibrant and active group of seven (plus one in April, 2024) CITEVA member professors with dynamic research projects, as well as high-level collaborators and visitors from various institutions around the world.


General objective

Train researcher able to lead cutting-edge investigations at the international level in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics, and contribute to the dissemination of new knowledge both in the academic and industrial contexts.

Specific objectives

  • Provide cutting-edge knowledge in Astrophysics, contributing to the development of the field from the region of Antofagasta, which concentrates some of the most advanced astronomical infrastructure in the world.

  • Provide cutting-edge knowledge in Astroinformatics, including computational techniques in order to solve practical scientific problems.

  • Develop communication and teamwork skills in order to be able to transmit scientific results in oral and written forms both to peers and to the general public.

  • Develop skills to identify problematics, to conceive strategies, and to implement solution within and without academia.


Format and curriculum

The curriculum of the Doctoral program is made of 5 fundamental courses corresponding to 38 credits along with optional classes for a total of 24 credits. Furthermore, at the end of the third semester students must present and defend a thesis project/qualifying, corresponding to 28 credits. Upon approval by the committee, the students will become a Doctoral candidate. To complete the studies and obtain the academic degree of Doctor, a thesis work (150 credits) bringing new knowledge must be defended before the commission.


Graduation profile

The graduates of the Doctoral program in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics of the Universidad de Antofagasta are skilled to lead collaborative investigations using their state-of-the-art knowledge in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics. Our graduates generate pertinent scientific questions and provide solutions that contribute to the advancement of astronomical knowledge. They are competent to create, develop and communicate their astronomical knowledge and computer tools in various contexts, which can be extrapolated to solving specific problems inside or outside academia.


Research Lines

Academic Degree

Alonso-García, Javier
  • Stellar populations in the Milky Way.
  • Variable Stars.
  • Globular clusters.
  • Local Group.
PhD, University of Michigan, USA.
Nina Hernitschek
  • Large time-domain surveys: projects using Pan-STARRS, WISE, SDSS, ZTF, TESS, LSST
  • Astrostatistical methods: time domain, Gaussian process, MCMC, machine-learning classifiers, neural networks
  • Variable sources: detection and classification of variable stars (e.g. RR Lyrae, Cepheids), quasars
  • Galaxy evolution: our Milky Way as an example for merger events, tidal streams
  • Low-mass stellar and substellar kinematics.
  • Unsupervised machine learning.
PhD, Universität Heidelberg/ International Max Planck Research School IMPRS, Germany
Longa-Peña, Penélope
  • Binary stars.
  • Compact binary stars.
  • Accretion processes.
  • Indirect imaging.
  • Doppler tomography.
PhD, University of Warwick, UK.
Nitschelm, Christian
  • Massive stars.
  • Binary and multiple stars.
  • Ap stars.
PhD, Observatoire de Paris, France.
Unda-Sanzana, Eduardo
  • Astroengineering.
  • Exoplanets.
PhD, University of Southampton, UK.




Research Lines

Academic degree

Alejandra Rojas Lilayú

  • Active Galaxy Nuclei
  • Galaxy evolution
PhD, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile


Visiting professors


Academic degree

Véronique Buat PhD, currently at Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (Francia)
Julio Carballo PhD, currently at Universidad de Tarapacá (Chile)
Alberto Krone Martins PhD, currently at University of California at Irvine (USA)
Boquien, Médéric PhD, currently at Université de Nice (Francia)


Reception of applications: Now closed.

(Next application period: 2nd to 30th of September, 2024).

Interviews: Now closed.

Publication of the results: Now closed.

Beginning of the classes: April, 2024.

Application prerequisites

Any person who has a Bachelor in Science or Engineering, or a Master’s degree or equivalent with a focus on Astrophysics, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or Computer Science at a level, duration and content compatible with the requirements of the Program, may apply to the Doctoral Program.

Applicants must submit the application form in addition to the following information:

  • Statement of purpose (max. 3000 including spaces) with a detailed description of my motivation to integrate the program, my previous research experience, if any, my research interests, my computing abilities, and my career goals. 
  • Official transcripts of my previous university studies.  
  • Curriculum Vitae. 
  • Statement of the origin of my financial resources during the doctoral program. 
  • Legalized copy of my professional title or academic degree (it can be the undergraduate degree). 
  • Copy of my identity card or passport. 
  • Accreditation of high level at spoken and written English.
  • Between a minimum of two and a maximum of three letters of recommendation to be sent directly to by recommenders who know me personally. At least one of these belongs to academia.

In case of presenting documentation in a language other than Spanish or English, a simple translation into either of these two languages ​​must be attached. Applicants who obtained their degree abroad must present their documents duly legalized by the corresponding authorities, during the first semester.

All application documents must be sent to within the deadlines established by the Program.

Selection process

The requested documents have the following weightings within the final grade:

  • Cover letter (max. 3000 characters including spaces): 30%.
  • Reference letters (minimum two, maximum three): 25%.
  • Academic background: 25%.
  • Curriculum Vitae: 20%.

In the case of applicants who have graduated from programs not explicitly mentioned in the rules, additional documentation may be requested to assess the applicants’ relevance.

The pre-selected students will be interviewed electronically. The interview will be conducted in English. The score achieved by the student prior to the interview will consist of 70% of their final score, so that the interview corresponds to 30% to the applicant’s final score.

The interview is individual and semi-structured in nature, with a pattern of questions and an evaluation grid. The interview will be scheduled after consulting the availability of the Program Council and the applicant.

Once the process is completed, an official list is sent to the Graduate School for ratification. Additionally, the Program management will send a letter to the applicants selected and not selected for the Program.

Our doctoral program has three lines of research: Astrophysics of galaxies, Astrophysics of stellar systems and Astroinformatics.

Research line


Astrophysics of galaxies The astrophysics of galaxies studies the structure, formation, dynamics, interactions and evolution of the Milky Way system and the celestial objects located outside our galaxy.
Astrophysics of stellar systems

Star systems astrophysics focuses on studies of resolved stellar and/or substellar populations.


Astroinformatics is an interdisciplinary field of study that involves the combination of astronomy, data science, computer science, and/or information and communication technologies.


Students accepted into the Program must pay the following fees for the year 2024.

Registration fee: 200,000 CLP (at the beginning of each year, including the first).

Annual program fee: 3,800,000 CLP (one tenth = 380,000 CLP is to be paid each month during a period of ten months).


  • New PhD students coming with external scholarships from foreign countries or research centers are welcome. These external scholarships must be certificated by the provider.
  • The Chilean state offers scholarships to Chilean nationals and foreigners through the National Agency of Scientific Research and Development (ANID: Agencia Nacional de Investigación Científica y Desarrollo). For 2024 please check: Chilean ANID PhD scholarships. Successfully accepted candidates of our PhD program must apply for and access one of these grants.
  • As of September 2023, our PhD program in Astrophysics and Astroinformatics cannot provide any internal grant.

Director of the Program:  Dr. Christian Nitschelm (

Administrative assistant of the Program: Sra. Anay Herrera (