Astronomy Major

Astronomy Major

For students intending to pursue a Ph.D. in Astronomy, we offer, jointly with the Department of Physics, a major in Astrophysics. For students interested in other pursuits, such as a Ph.D. in Planetary Science or careers in education, data science, scientific and technical computing, and public outreach (e.g., museum staff, journalism), we offer a major in Astronomy. The major consists of 12 courses.   

Course Requirements

  • Astronomy: ASTR 107, ASTR 206, an additional 200-level course, and two 300-level courses (one of which can be in a related field).
  • Physics: 100, 107, 108, 120, 205, 207.
  • Mathematics: MATH 215 (Note that MATH 115 and 116 are prerequisites for MATH 215)

Students interested to pursue planetary science in graduate school are encouraged to supplement their program with courses in the Geoscience department as well as PHYS 210 Experimental Techniques (optics & electronics laboratory; also satisfies the DL requirement). Students interested to pursue careers in education and public outreach are encouraged to complete additional coursework in the Education department and the Writing Program.

Honors in Astronomy

The route to honors in the major is writing an honors thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the honors thesis program (ASTR 360/370), a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level. Students who do not meet the GPA requirement can still complete a (non-honors) thesis (ASTR 355/365). If the student demonstrates excellence in research during ASTR 355, they may petition to enroll in the honors thesis program. That student would then be eligible for honors in the major. We encourage students to seek out off-campus advisors in the Boston area. Please note that the 355/365 option will become available starting in 2024-2025 academic year.