Undergraduate Degree Programs in Astronomy

Astrophysicists apply physics and mathematics to the study of planets, stars, galaxies, pulsars, black holes, quasars and the universe, among many other fascinating objects in order to understand their origin, evolution and ultimate fate. Students who major in astronomy or astrophysics usually have very inquisitive minds and a good aptitude for physics and mathematics. The bachelor degree programs in astronomy and astrophysics provide the student with a solid background in laboratory and theoretical astrophysics as well as in the fundamentals of physics and mathematics. Research opportunities are available to supplement classroom instruction.

B.S. Degree in Astrophysics  The bachelor of science degree in astrophysics is designed for students who wish to go on to graduate studies in astrophysics with the goal of becoming professional astronomers. Professional astronomers generally find positions at colleges, and universities, national labs, NASA or its contractors and in various space industries. This degree also prepares you for many jobs in related fields such as computer science, mathematics or physics.

B.A. Degree in Astronomy  The bachelor of arts degree in astronomy is intended for students who desire a broad background in astronomy, mathematics and physics but do not plan to do graduate work in astrophysics. With this broad background, the student is well prepared in many fields of endeavor, including planetarium and museum work, teaching astronomy at colleges and universities, secondary education, science writing, or, in fact, in many professions in which the ability to learn is critical.

Both of these degrees can be profitably combined with mathematics and other sciences producing excellent double majors or double degrees.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Astrophysics
College of Arts and Sciences

Program Requirements

Mathematics Courses (18-19)
  MATH 021 Calculus I (4)
  MATH 022 Calculus II (4)
  MATH 023 Calculus III (4)
  MATH 205 Linear Methods (3)
  SELECT One of …
      MATH 208 Complex Variables (3)
      MATH 320 Ordinary Differential Equations (3-4)
      MATH 322 Methods of Applied Analysis I (3)

Basic Science Courses (20)
  SELECT One of …
      PHY 011 Introductory Physics I (4)
      PHY 010 General Physics I (4)
  PHY 012 Introductory Physics Laboratory I (1)
  SELECT One of …
      PHY 021 Introductory Physics II (4)
      PHY 023 Introductory Physics II with Relativity (4)
  PHY 022 Introductory Physics Laboratory II (1)
  PHY 031 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (3)
  ASTR 105 Planetary Astronomy (3)
  CHM 030 Introduction to Chemical Principles (4)

Laboratory and Computing Courses (7)
  CSE 002 Fundamentals of Programming * (2)
  PHY 220 Advanced Physics Laboratory I (3)
  PHY 221 Advanced Physics Laboratory II (2)
  *Or an equivalent course in scientific computing

Intermediate and Advanced Courses (22)
  PHY 212 Electricity and Magnetism I (3)
  PHY 213 Electricity and Magnetism II (3)
  PHY 215 Classical Mechanics I (4)
  PHY 340 Thermal Physics (3)
  PHY 362 Atomic and Molecular Structure (3)
  ASTR 301 Modern Astrophysics I (3)
  ASTR 302 Modern Astrophysics II (3)

Approved Elective Courses (11-13)
  SELECT Three of …
      ASTR/PHY 332 High-Energy Astrophysics (3)
      ASTR/PHY 342 Relativity and Cosmology (3)
      PHY 348 Plasma Physics (3)
      PHY 352 Modern Optics (3)
      PHY 364 Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (3)
      PHY 369 Quantum Mechanics I (3)
      PHY 380 Introduction to Computational Physics (3)
  SELECT One additional course in an appropriate technical area in consultation
      with the advisor. Students planning graduate work in Astrophysics are advised
      to include ASTR 273 (Research) among their electives.

Total Credits 78-81

A total of 123 credit hours are required for the Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics.


Bachelor of Arts Degree With a Major in Astronomy
College of Arts and Sciences

Program Requirements

Mathematics [15]

  • MATH 21, 22, 23, and 205 [15]

Basic and Intermediate-Level Science [28-31]

  • MATH 21, 22, 23, and 205 [15]
  • ASTR 7/8 (4)
  • PHY 11/12 or 10/12 (5)
  • PHY 21/22 or 13/14 (4-5)
  • PHY 31, 262 (5)
  • CHM 30 (4)
  • EES 21, 22 (4)
  • 24 cr. hr. at 100 level or above (2-4)

Intermediate - Advanced Astronomy/Astrophysics [9]

  • ASTR/PHY/EES 105 (4)
  • ASTR/PHY 110 (1)
  • ASTR/PHY 301 or 302 (4)

Approved Electives [12]

  • Two additional physics/astronomy courses at the 200 level or above (6)
  • Two additional science or mathematics courses at the 200 level or above (6)

Approved Electives are subject to the approval of the student’s advisor, and should be chosen to provide a coherent program.

Recommended courses are MATH 12, PHY 212, EES 31, BIOS 41.

A total of 120 credit hours are required for the Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy.


Minor in Astronomy 

A minor program in astronomy is also available for students who wish to enlarge their potential for a career choice or who may be eager to learn more about astrophysics than an introductory course can provide. The requirements for a minor in astronomy are:

  • PHY 11/12 and 21/22
  • ASTR 105, 301, and 302
  • One ASTR course at the 300 level
  • Two courses (minimum of 6 credit hours) selected from the following:
  • Any ASTR course (except ASTR 7 or 8) CSC 17, MATH 208, 231, PHY 31, 213, 215, 348, 362.

The minor program must be designed in consultation with the program director.

Departmental Honors in Astronomy or Astrophysics  

Students receiving a BA in Astronomy or a BS in Astrophysics may earn DepartmentalHonors by satisfying the following requirements:

Academic Performance: Minimum grade point average of 3.50 in astronomy and physics courses used to satisfy the major degree requirements.

Research or Project-Based/Creative Activity: completion of approved* special topics courses in astronomy that include written reports, or completion of 6 credits of PHY 273 (research) or equivalent, or completion of a summer research project with written report and oral presentation

Additional Course Work: Completion of at least one approved* 300-level course in either physics or astronomy beyond those required in the student’s degree program. This course may not be selected from special topics or research courses such as ASTR/PHY 350 or PHY 372.

*specific approvals are granted by the Program Director