SAO Testimonials

"My years at SAO provided a solid and wide-ranging basis for my work at our regional public observatory in the Netherlands and my volunteer work as a JPL/Solar System Ambassador. Despite never having met many of my classmates in person, the relationships we developed working together in our various courses have in many cases continued for more than a decade after graduation."
Lynn van Rooijen-McCullough, (Lynn), The Netherlands

Studying at SAO and getting my MSc in Astronomy was literally a life-changing experience. I had signed up for the program just for fun, but after my graduation I ended up accepting a position at the SETI Institute, where I've now been a planetary researcher for 13 years. Although I never met any of my classmates during the program, many of us became good friends, and we are still in contact today. I was even able to meet one of them on top of Mauna Kea while touring the large telescope where he worked! I highly recommend the program for anyone interested in astronomy at any level, but be assured this is a serious program. You can learn a lot if you are willing to put in the work.
Robert French, California, USA

My time at SAO was an amazing experience. Completing my MSc there allowed me to take advantages of opportunities as a sessional instructor at the University of Lethbridge and now at the University of Calgary, within their Faculty of Science's Department of Physics and Astronomy. It also provided me with the knowledge and skills to take on writing a textbook on planetary nebulae. I'm now enjoying life as a semi-pro astronomer!
Jason Nishiyama, Calgary, Canada

“I went into the SAO program with nothing but a background in business, and was rather daunted with changing my career completely to Astronomy & Astrophysics. However, the learning journey was fantastic, the support from our instructors and peers was world-class, and the value that I personally got out of it was astronomical (pun). I had my heart set on becoming a pulsar astronomer since I was in my teens. Thanks to SAO, I was able to lay down my career foundations and follow through with this pathway. Now, I get to drive the Parkes radio telescope (aka "The Dish") and look for pulsars for my own research!”
Rami Mandow, Sydney, Australia

"The beauty of studying online is that you only need to travel as far as your computer. It's incredibly easy to work around your job or social life - it's the ultimate in flexibility." [Emil went on to obtain his PhD with Swinburne and now works for the CSIRO, conducting astronomy research and helping to commission the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.]
Emil Lenc, Sydney, Australia

"After a career as a cinematographer travelling Australia and the world, I went back to my boyhood dreams of astronomy. SAO provided the perfect pathway. After completing the Graduate Certificate course, I was immediately offered a job at the Sydney Observatory as an astronomy educator. I went on and did the Masters. While the Graduate Certificate was adequate for guiding work, the Masters enabled me to answer questions with authority. I can now delve deeper into the reasons for many astronomical and cosmological processes. With the Masters I also intend to start a small business as an astronomical writer for media publications. University courses are not a waste for retirees — there are great jobs to be had and thus are of great economic benefit to Australia.
Tony Lewis, Mount Victoria, NSW, Australia

Studying in the SAO program has been a fantastic experience. One of the most important aspects of the program is that it's accessible to students from all over the world in a way that traditional in-person Masters programs simply aren’t. As a result, it has offered me an opportunity to get a Masters in a subject that I’m passionate about that I otherwise could not have formally studied. At SAO accessibility hasn’t meant a decline in quality either. The excellence of instruction and material presented has been reflective of Swinburne’s consistent ranking among the top couple hundred universities on the planet. Finally, the program has been personally inspirational. In April of 2020, in the heart of the first pandemic driven lockdown, the Astrobiology class inspired me to come up with a new idea to test for COVID-19 using Mass Spectrometry and knowledge I gained of the scientific process allowed me to meaningfully contribute to the effort to commercialize it.
John Pepper, Las Vegas, USA

"Without a degree in astronomy, I spent more than four years doing temporary, part-time technical work at a 2-meter telescope and being passed over for better jobs. I enrolled in SAO to better grasp the science, and within weeks I obtained a full-time job operating Japan's 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope (in Hawaii)."
Dan Birchall, Hawaii, USA

I was thrilled to complete my Master of Science in Astronomy in 2012. I intentionally stretched it out over 5 years by taking only 2-3 units per year. I thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter in each unit and the online discussions with fellow students. In many ways I wish I could have continued my studies as the field of astronomy and cosmology is moving so quickly. The structure of each of the 12 units kept me motivated the whole time, with daily online discussions, periodic tests and the requirement for a well researched written paper for each unit. I believe I learned the most from the deep dive into the published and soon to be published literature to research the specific topic of each unit final paper. It particularly worked with my hectic international travel schedule which would have been impossible with a normal university program. I still keep in touch with some of my fellow classmates and have now built my own observatory in Texas for remote astrophotography.
Howard McLaughlin, Dallas Texas

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an SAO student. The course is well taught and flexible for students with busy lives, allowing them to complete their studies online when it suits them. Students are also able to connect with others studying the same unit via a well-managed virtual portal – some of whom may be located on the other side of the world! Since studying with SAO, I have moved into a science communications role with Astronomy Australia Limited. I can say without a doubt that my SAO course experience helps me on a daily basis in this job, especially when trying to decipher and summarise some of the more opaque astronomical papers that come across my desk!
Romy Pearse, Melbourne, Australia.

"I stumbled across SAO quite by accident: a talk by an SAO lecturer in my home town in Tasmania alerted me to the fact that I could study Astronomy online at Swinburne University from anywhere in the World. After recently graduating with an MSc from SAO, I haven’t looked back: tutoring university Astronomy classes, presenting planetarium shows, and enrolling in a PhD project researching the Cultural Astronomy of indigenous Australians. All this was made possible by the dedication of the team at SAO.”
Trevor Leaman, Launceston, Tasmania (now in Sydney)

"There is never a doubt in my mind that we are given, through SAO, access to world-class astronomers and great teachers. The newsgroups (online Discussions) are our opportunity to leverage these skilled people."
Steve Harper, Melbourne, Australia

"I really enjoyed my studies in the SAO program, and I'm extremely lucky that a program like this exists. It's been a great opportunity to turn my astronomy hobby into part of my vocation and finally gain some in-depth knowledge of a subject that I have loved since I was very young."
Marek Cichanski, California, USA

"Teaching astronomy is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable opportunities I have had. My SAO MSc provided both the current knowledge and credentials necessary, and the structure of the program fit flexibly with my busy professional schedule."
Andy Munro, Iowa, USA

"SAO has taken me on a wonderful magical carpet ride through the universe. It has been the most exciting, exhilarating, fun-filled time of my life."
Margaret Turner, Tuross Heads, Australia

"My SAO degree helped me change careers and start teaching college students what I love about astronomy. It has been a very rewarding change, and the SAO Master's Degree is diverse enough that I was well prepared for the students."
Chuck Pullen, California, USA

"The dedication, guidance and encouragement from the instructors made the SAO experience so worthwhile and rewarding."
Jim Phillips, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

"The reason that I am able to be an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington (UW) is because of my Masters degree from Swinburne University. Your school has a solid reputation at the UW. I miss the classes and integrate A LOT of what and how I learned from your program. Entering and completing your program was one of the best choices of my life."
Mark Burbank, Washington, USA

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