Astronomy Track | Bachelor of Science Program

Bachelor of Science Program – Astronomy Track

Did you know that to become an astronomer you must first major in physics? Astronomers and astrophysicists don't just observe and map the sky, but they seek to explain it. Some handle telescopes, some handle only data, and most use computers in large scale to make simulations and compare to the data. Astrophysical bodies and phenomena are extreme expressions of physics in action. For this reason, astronomy graduate programs require a bachelor in physics for admission.

Our astronomy track prepares candidates best for competitive entrance into a PhD program in an astronomy department. We combine the strength of our bachelor of science with a concentration in undergraduate astronomy courses designed to introduce students to graduate studies in astronomy.

Required courses
In order to complete this track, candidates must take 12 credits in upper level undergraduate courses in astronomy. Students can choose from the following:
PHYS 405 Gravitational Astrophysics (3 credits)
ASTRON 0113 Introduction to Astrophysics (3 credits)
ASTRON 1120 Stars, stellar structure and stellar evolution (3 credits)
ASTRON 1121 Galaxies and cosmology (3 credits)
ASTRON 1122 The solar system and extrasolar planets (3 credits)
ASTRON 1263 Techniques of Astronomy (3 credits)

All ASTRON courses are offered at the University of Pittsburgh and available via cross-registration as a benefit of the Pittsburgh Council of Higher Education. Any other PCHE course requires departmental approval. The class PHYS 407 GRE prep and research beyond the minimum of one semester are strongly recommended.

Course sequence
The courses indicated below must be taken in sequence because of prerequisite linkages. Courses not appearing in the sequence are flexible.

Semester 1
PHYS 211+211L General Analytical Physics 1 and lab
MATH 115 Calculus 1
Semester 2
PHYS 212+212L General Analytical Physics 2 and lab
MATH 116 Calculus 2
Programming (COSC 150/160/170 C++, Java or Python)
Semester 3
PHYS 301 Optics
PHYS 312 Optics lab
MATH 215 Calculus 3
MATH 310 Linear Algebra
Semester 4
PHYS 374 Modern Physics
PHYS 332 Electronics
MATH 314 Differential Equations
Semester 5
PHYS 461 Mechanics or PHYS 401 Thermal Physics
PHYS 470 Electricity & Magnetism or PHYS 474 Quantum Mechanics
PHYS 407 GRE prep
ASTRON xxxx (1)
Semester 6
PHYS 464 Advanced Lab
PHYS 472 Electrodynamics
PHYS 407 GRE prep
ASTRON xxxx (2)
Semester 7
PHYS 401 Thermal Physics or PHYS 461 Mechanics
PHYS 474 Quantum Mechanics or PHYS 470 Electricity & Magnetism
ASTRON xxxx (3)
Semester 8
PHYS 499W Senior Research
PHYS 472 Electrodynamics if not taken before
ASTRON xxxx (4)