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 additional upper-level courses in ASTR or ASPH, one of which must be at the 300-level.
  • Physics: PHYS 107, 108, 202, 207, 216, 302, 305, 310, 314
  • Mathematics: MATH 215

Typical schedule of courses

Students intending to major in astrophysics may consult this chart to determine the sequence of physics courses.  In addition, students are strongly encouraged to take:

  • First year: an introductory course in astronomy (normally ASTR 101 with lab; alternatively, one can take ASTR 100 with lab or ASTR 210).
  • Fall of sophomore or junior year: ASTR 206 on astronomical techniques.
  • Spring of sophomore or junior year: any 200-level course (e.g., ASTR 202, 203, 210, or 220).
  • Fall of junior or senior year:  ASTR 303 or ASTR 311.

The Departments of Physics and Astronomy offer an interdepartmental major in Astrophysics which combines the Physics major with a foundation of course work in Astronomy. The goal of the major is to provide a rigorous and organized program of study for students wishing to pursue graduate study in astronomy or astrophysics and for those who would like a coordinated astronomy extension to the physics major.

Modern astrophysics is the application of physics and mathematics to the study of the universe, and hence there is necessarily a very close connection between physics and astronomy. For students interested in attending graduate school in astronomy, a thorough grounding in mathematics and physics is absolutely essential. The interdisciplinary nature of astrophysics makes it appropriate that this major does not reside in just one department. Although thorough preparation in physics is at the core of an astrophysicist's training, a strong astronomical background is fundamental as well. Our students who have done well in astronomy graduate school report that a solid basis in astronomy has been crucial preparation for their teaching responsibilities as graduate students. It also provides them with a broader overview of the discipline than they would have if they had studied only physics before attending graduate school.

The Director of the Astrophysics program is the Chair of the Department of Astronomy. Professor Glenn Stark is currently the Physics Department's liaison to the program. All students electing to major in Astrophysics have two faculty advisors - one each from the Physics and Astronomy Departments.