BA in Astronomy & Physics

Astronomy encompasses the most interesting physical phenomena in the universe, from the atmospheres of planets, to the discovery and characterization of planets orbiting other stars, the nature of galaxies and the stars within them, the supermassive black holes at the centers of large galaxies, and how the universe got to be the way it is. Astronomy & Physics (A&P) majors gain a broad knowledge of the principles of astronomy and physics, including planets in the solar system, stars and star formation, the nature of the interstellar medium, galaxies and cosmology, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and mathematical methods of physics. A&P students learn to communicate astronomical information effectively to a variety of audiences using the spoken and written word. They learn to think critically and evaluate, interpret, and solve problems related to astronomy, physics, and general scientific topics. The A&P BA is a pathway to research-oriented careers. It prepares students for either immediate workforce entry or further, graduate-level study in astronomy and related sciences. Students who wish to pursue advanced degrees in astronomy or astrophysics are advised to choose this major.

A total of 19 courses are required, all completed with a grade of C or higher. Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Prerequisites (4)

  • CAS AS 202 Principles of Astronomy I
  • CAS AS 203 Principles of Astronomy II
  • CAS PY 251 Principles of Physics 1 (or CAS PY 211 General Physics)
  • CAS PY 252 Principles of Physics 2 (or CAS PY 212 General Physics)

Principal (Required) Courses (15)

  • CAS AS 311 Planetary Physics
  • CAS AS 312 Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics
  • CAS AS 441 Observational Astronomy or CAS PY 581 Advanced Laboratory
  • CAS MA 123 Calculus I
  • CAS MA 124 Calculus II
  • CAS MA 225 Multivariate Calculus
  • CAS PY 313 Waves and Modern Physics (or PY 351 Modern Physics I)
  • CAS PY 355 Methods of Theoretical Physics
  • CAS PY 405 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I
  • CAS PY 406 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves II
  • CAS PY 408 Intermediate Mechanics
  • CAS PY 410 Statistical Thermodynamics
  • CAS PY 451 Quantum Physics 1

and at least two courses from the following list:

  • CAS AS 413 Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • CAS AS 414 Solar and Space Physics
  • CAS PY 452 Quantum Physics 2

Students who enter the program with a strong background in calculus may substitute CAS MA 127 or MA 129 for the combination of CAS MA 123 and MA 124, in consultation with their academic advisor.

Recommended Courses

Any from the above list of courses, if not taken as a principal course, in addition to CAS MA 226, MA 242, PY 371, GE 302, GE 310, CS 111, and CS 112.