Astronomy and Astrophysics Track

This track prepares students to undertake graduate work in astronomy, astrophysics, or related earth and planetary sciences. It is not necessary to complete the minor in Astronomy as preparation for graduate work in astronomy or astrophysics, though many students will choose that option. Note that this 'track' is simply for advising purposes for help in choosing electives. All physics majors complete the same requirements for the major.

The Curriculum

  1. Physics introductory courses [4 or 5 hours; note that only the second course in any sequence counts toward the physics major; as appropriate, any combination of 116a/118a + 116b/118b or 116a/118a + 121b or 121a + 121b or 121a + 116b/118b satisfies the Introductory Course requirement]:
    • first semester introductory, calculus-based physics (pre-requisite for the major):
      • PHYS 116a (General Physics I) with PHYS 118a (General Physics I Lab) [offered in both Spring and Fall] [4] or
      • PHYS 121a: Principles of Physics I with lab [Fall, 5]
    • second semester introductory, calculus-based physics [4 or 5]:
      • PHYS 116b (General Physics II) with PHYS 118b (General Physics II Lab) [offered in both Spring and Fall, 4] or
      • PHYS 121b: Principles of Physics II with lab [Fall, 5]
  2. Core curriculum [19 hours]:
    • PHYS 225 or 225W: Concepts and Applications of Quantum Physics I [Fall, 4]
    • PHYS 226 or 226W: Concepts and Applications of Quantum Physics II [Spring, 4]
    • PHYS 223: Thermal and Statistical Physics [3] or PHYS 223C: Computational Thermal and Statistical Physics [Fall, 3]
    • PHYS 227a: Classical Mechanics I [Fall, 3]
    • PHYS 229a: Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics I [Spring, 3]
    • PHYS 250: Physics Undergraduate Seminar [1]
    • ASTR 250: Astronomy Undergraduate Seminar [1]
  3. Additional courses:
    • An introductory astronomy course, ASTR 102 or 205 (ASTR 205 strongly recommended) [3]
    • PHYS 227b: Classical mechanics II [3]
    • PHYS 229b: Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics II [3]
    • PHYS 251a-251b: Advanced quantum physics I and II [3]
    • PHYS 257: computational physics
    • Any of ASTR 252, 253, 260, 354

Sample Astronomy and Astrophysics program

(allowing for honors research in astronomy; students who choose to study abroad, typically in the third year, can either move some of Physics 223, 227A and 229A to the second year or find equivalent courses in their study-abroad program)

Fall SemesterSpring Semester
First Year Physics 121a
Math 155a
First year writing seminar
Foreign language 1
Physics 121b
Math 155b
History and Culture 1(W)
Foreign Language 2
CS 101
Astronomy 201
Second Year Physics 225 or 225W
Astronomy 102 or 205
Math 175
Humanities 1
History and Culture 2
research (Astronomy 289)
Physics 226 or 226W
Astronomy 252 or 253
Math 194 or 204
Humanities 2
Social Science 1
research (Astronomy 289)
Third Year Physics 227a
Physics 223 or 223C
Physics or Astronomy 250a
Math 194 or 204
Social Science 2
History and Culture 3
research (Astronomy 291)
Physics 227b
Physics 229a
Physics 257
Physics 250 or Astronomy 250
Math 198 or 208
Social Science 2
research (Astronomy 291)
Fourth Year Physics 251a
Physics 229b
honors research (Astronomy 296)
History and Culture 4
Physics 251b
Astronomy 252 or 253
honors research (Astronomy 296)
Humanities 3

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