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Academic Program

Major and Minor Programs

Interdepartmental Astrophysics Major

Astrophysics (modern astronomy) is the application of physics and mathematics to the study of the universe. For students interested in attending graduate school in astronomy, a thorough grounding in mathematics and physics is essential. To meet the needs of such students, the Astronomy and Physics departments jointly offer an Astrophysics Major consisting of the complete physics major plus four astronomy subjects. One of the upper-level astronomy subjects can be replaced by a Senior Thesis in either Physics or Astronomy.

Course requirements

Typical schedule of courses

Students planning to complete the Astrophysics Major ideally start with a 100-level course with laboratory in ASTR and PHYS 107 in the Fall of their first year, followed by PHYS 108 in the Spring:

Fall Spring
First Year ASTR 1xx with Lab
PHYS 107
(MATH 116 if necessary)
ASTR 1xx with Lab (if not in fall term)
PHYS 108
Second Year ASTR 206
PHYS 202
MATH 215
PHYS 207
PHYS 216
Third Year ASTR 206 (if not in second year)
PHYS 302
ASTR 301 or 311 (alternate years)
PHYS 310
Fourth Year ASPH 350/360?
PHYS 314
ASTR 301 or 311 (alternate years)
PHYS 305

Astronomy Major

The Astronomy Major is for students interested in studying astronomy in college, but not intending to go to graduate school in astronomy. This major offers students opportunities to get hands-on experience with telescopes and to work on real research projects in astronomy. Through the physics, math, and astrophysics requirements, the major also develops critical thinking and problem solving skills prized in today's work force. Above all, the major offers students the chance to explore how we have come to understand our place in the Universe.

Course requirements

The Astronomy major consists of ten courses. Required courses include

The other five courses normally include

Students should consult with faculty about choosing electives and research opportunities appropriate for their fields of study. For example, students interested in planetary sciences should elect ASTR 203 (Planetary Geology) and add courses in geosciences and chemistry. Students working towards teacher certification would add courses in other sciences and in Education, and might coordinate their fieldwork with ASTR 350, while those planning to enter the technical workforce might elect additional courses in computer science.

Astronomy Minor

If you liked your introductory astronomy course, you might want to consider an Astronomy Minor. This program is offered to meet the needs of students in other fields who don't necessarily want to take physics, but who love astronomy.

Course requirements

Subjects popular with Minors