B.S. in Astronomy

The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a program designed to prepare students for work in space-related and aerospace-related industries, academic and government research laboratories, graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics, and other careers such as science education. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects such as planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as the Universe as a whole. Astronomers apply the fundamental laws of physics to celestial objects to understand the appearance and behavior of those objects. Students will explore objects ranging from the nearby (e.g., the Solar System) to the farthest reaches of the Universe and its origin (e.g., cosmology and the Big Bang).

In addition to classroom learning, students will gain hands-on experience with astronomical equipment, such as telescopes and sophisticated electronic cameras, using the Campus Observatory Complex. Students will learn how to plan, execute, and analyze astronomical observations. In their senior year, students satisfying course and GPA requirements have the option of completing a senior research thesis project in an area of interest that overlaps with the research interests of a supervising faculty member. Opportunities also exist before the senior year for student-faculty research projects. Whether contributing to the fundamental knowledge of astronomical objects, furthering space exploration, or engaging in one of an additional variety of available careers, graduates of this program will be prepared to become leaders in space-related fields.

Admission Requirements

To enter this program, students must have completed four years of high school science and mathematics, demonstrating a high level of competency. Successful candidates for this program will be prepared to enter Calculus I, Physics I, and General Chemistry and must have a good command of written English.

Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a 120 credit hour program that can be completed in eight semesters. The list of courses below comprises the complete requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Astronomy. The list is organized as a “vertical outline” according to the year and semester in which the courses would normally be taken. While it is not a requirement that the courses be taken during the year shown, students should be aware that several courses in each academic year may have prerequisites and/or corequisites. Therefore, it is recommended that students keep their schedule as close as possible to the one shown below. Before registering for a course, check the course descriptions to ensure that all prerequisites and/or corequisites are met. Note that prerequisites for a course are only considered met if the student obtained a grade of “C” or better in the prerequisite courses.

Students may not pursue both an Astronomy B.S. degree and a Space Physics B.S. degree. However, also note that the degree requirements for the first three semesters of both degree programs can be satisfied with the same courses. Thus, a student who is making appropriate progress in either the Astronomy or Space Physics degree programs can switch to the other program after the third semester with a complete transfer of credit from one program to the other.

Suggested Program of Study

Freshman Year
Communication Elective * 3
CHM 110
CHM 110L
General Chemistry I 4
MA 241 Calculus and Analytical Geometry I 4
CS 118 Fundamentals of Computer Programming 3
Introduction to Computing for Engineers
MA 242 Calculus and Analytical Geometry II 4
PS 204 General Astronomy 3
PS 215 Physics I 3
PS 216 Physics I Laboratory 1
PS 208 Physics II 3
PS 221 Intermediate Physics Laboratory 2
UNIV 101 College Success 1
 Credits Subtotal31.0
Sophomore Year
Humanities Lower-Level Elective 3
MA 243 Calculus and Analytical Geometry III 4
MA 335 Introduction to Linear and Abstract Algebra 3
MA 345 Differential Equations and Matrix Methods 4
PS 219 Physics III 3
PS 222 Intermediate Astronomy 3
PS 232  3
PS 271 Techniques of Observational Astronomy 3
PS 303 Modern Physics 3
PS 315 Modern Physics Laboratory 2
 Credits Subtotal31.0
Junior Year
Communication Elective 6
Open Elective 3
Technical Elective 6
Social Science Lower-Level Elective 3
MA 441 Mathematical Methods for Engineering and Physics I 3
PS 330 Electricity and Magnetism I 3
PS 340 Astrophysics I 3
PS 408 Astrophysics II 3
 Credits Subtotal30.0
Senior Year
Humanities Upper-Level Elective 3
Open Elective 4
Social Science Upper-Level Elective 3
Technical Elective 3
PS 321 Classical Mechanics I 3
PS 350 Quantum Mechanics I 3
PS 380 Optics Laboratory 3
PS 490 Senior Research Thesis, Part I 3
PS 491 Senior Research Thesis, Part II 3
 Credits Subtotal28.0
 Credits Total: 120.0
Communications Electives
COM 122English Composition3
COM 219Speech3
COM 221Technical Report Writing3
COM 222Business Communication3
or any COM 3XX or COM 4XX course3
Social Science Lower-Level Electives
EC 210Microeconomics3
EC 211Macroeconomics3
Any Lower-Level SS, RS, or SIS course3
Humanities Lower-Level Electives
Any Humanities Lower-Level Course3
Upper-Level Humanities Electives
Any HU Upper-Level Course
Social Science Upper-Level Electives
Any SS Upper-Level Course
Technical Electives
PS 299Special Topics in Physical Science1-4
or PS 399 Special Topic in Physical Science
or PS 499 Special Topic in Physical Science
PS 322Classical Mechanics II3
PS 331Electricity and Magnetism II3
PS 405Atomic Nuclear Physics3
PS 412Particle Physics and Cosmology3
PS 413Particle Physics and Cosmology II3
PS 420Remote Sensing3
PS 422Space Propulsion3
PS 451Quantum Mechanics II3
MA 299Special Topics in Mathematics1-4
or MA 399 Special Topics in Mathematics
or MA 499 Special Topics in Mathematics
MA 412Probability and Statistics3
MA 443Complex Variables3
Any other upper-division technical course with approval of the Astronomy Department