Astrophysics (modern astronomy) is the application of physics and mathematics to the study of the universe.


Astrophysics Major

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

  • Astronomy: Any 100-level course in ASTR w/lab, 206, and any two 300-level courses in ASTR or ASPH
  • Physics: PHYS 107, 108, 202, 207, 216, 302, 305, 310, 314
  • Mathematics: MATH 215

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 a laboratory
PHYS 107 
(MATH 116 if necessary)
ASTR 1xx with a laboratory (if not in fall term) 
PHYS 108
Second Year ASTR 206  (or in 3rd year)
PHYS 202 
MATH 215
PHYS 207 
PHYS 216
Third Year
ASTR 206 (if not in 2nd year)
PHYS 302
(ASTR 301 or 311?)
(ASTR 303 or 323?)
PHYS 310
Fourth Year
ASTR 206 (if not already done)
(ASTR 301 or 311?)
(ASTR 301 or 350 or 360?)
PHYS 314
(ASTR 303 or 323 or 370?)
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:

  • Astronomy: Any 100-level course in ASTR with lab; ASTR 206; two 300-level courses in ASTR.
  • Physics: PHYS 107; PHYS 106 or PHYS 108

The other four courses normally include:

  • two additional ASTR courses at the 200-level or above
  • one course in MATH at the 200-level
  • one additional course in ASTR or a related field

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

  • Any 100-level course in ASTR, ASTR 206, any ASTR 3xx, and two additional units in astronomy.