Handbook for Astronomy Majors

Handbook for Astronomy Majors Hal Marshall

September 2023
Department of Astronomy

Contact List:

Department Head:

Professor Daniela Calzetti
(413) 545-3556

Chief Undergraduate Advisor:

Professor Todd Tripp
(413) 577-3070

Honors Program Director:

Professor Min Yun
(413) 545-2215

Undergraduate Program Director:

Professor Ronald Snell
(413) 545-1949

Advising and Counseling Resources

Advising and Counseling Resources Hal Marshall

Astronomy Department Academic Advisors:

Advisors, Class of 2027

Professor Daniel Wang
LGRC 517 G
545-2131

Professor Mauro Giavalisco
LGRC 520
545-4767

Advisors, Class of 2026

Professor Daniela Calzetti
LGRC 619 J
545-3556

Professor Min Yun
LGRC 522
545-2215

Advisor, Class of 2025

Professor Todd Tripp
LGRC 526
545-3070

Advisors, Class of 2024

Professor Alexandra Pope
LGRC 618
545-1769

Professor Katherine Whitaker
LGRC 524
545-3556

Transfer Advising

Professor Ronald Snell
LGRC 517 K
545-1949

The College of Natural Sciences Advising Center:

220 Morrill II Science Center
545-1969 

The College of Natural Sciences Career and Professional Development Center:

215 Morrill III Science Center
545-2238 

University Career Services:

511 Goodell Building
545-2224

University Counseling Services:

Middlesex House
545-2337 or 545-0333 

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements Hal Marshall

University and College Requirements

To receive a bachelor's degree in astronomy, a student must meet the graduation requirement set by the University, the College of Natural Sciences, and the Department of Astronomy. The University requirements (total number of credits, number of credits in residence, GPA, general education requirements) are all explained in the Guide to Undergraduate Programs,

Two of the general educations requirements (Junior Year Writing and Integrative Experience) are discipline-specific and are also summarized under the Department requirements.

The College of Natural Science requirements for graduation are described on the College website. For a BS degree the College of Natural Science requires 60 credits of coursework in departments within the college. For a BA degree there is a foreign language requirement.

Department Requirements

The Department offers both BA and BS degrees in astronomy. For the BS degree there are two tracks: Astrophysics and Space Science. If you are interested in adding an astronomy major or interesting in changing degree tracks, please consult one of our advisors

Note that the requirements for both the BA and BS degrees have been recently revised. Students starting Fall 2023 or later have different requirements than students starting before Fall 2023.

BA Degree (Students starting Fall 2023 and later)

BA Degree (Students starting Fall 2023 and later) Hal Marshall

The B.A. degree is designed for students seeking careers in teaching, museum work, science writing, pre-med, etc.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credit, Fall semester only)
ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only) or ASTRON 452: Astrophysics III: Galaxies and the Universe (4 credits, Spring semester only)

Three additional astronomy courses (at least 3 credits each) and one of these three additional course must be at the 300 level or higher. The 300+ level course can also be in closely related subjects such as Geoscience or Physics, but need approval by Department Advisor. Some options for 200+ and 300+ level astronomy courses:

ASTRON 220: Special Topics in Astronomy (3 credits)
ASTRON 223: Planetary Science (3 credits, usually in spring semester)
ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits.)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester)

Physics Courses:

PHYSIC 181 Physics I – Mechanics ( 4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)
PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 272: Physics III: Thermodynamics, Optics and Special Relativity (3 credits, Fall semester only) and PHYSICS 273: Sophomore Lab I (2 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 276: Physics IV: Introduction to Waves and Quantum Mechanics (3 credits, Spring semester only) and PHYSICS 277: Sophomore Lab II (2 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall semester only)

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSICS 181, MATH 131 Spring: PHYSICS 182, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

ASTRON 228 (spring semester), and one additional 200+ level astronomy courses, PHYSICS 281 (spring semester), PHYSICS 272/273 (fall semester), PHYSICS 276/277 (spring semester), MATH 233

Junior/Senior Years:

ASTRON 301 (fall semester), ASTRON 335 (fall semester), ASTRON 339 (spring semester), two additional 200+ level astronomy course and one additional 300+ level astronomy course

BA Degree (Students starting before Fall 2023)

BA Degree (Students starting before Fall 2023) Hal Marshall

The B.A. degree is designed for students seeking careers in teaching, museum work, science writing, pre-med, etc.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credit, Fall semester only)
ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only)

Three additional astronomy courses (at least 3 credits each) and one of these three additional courseS must be at the 300 level or higher. The 300+ level course can also be in closely related subjects such as Geoscience or Physics, but need approval by Department Advisor. Some options for 200+ and 300+ level astronomy courses:

ASTRON 220: Special Topics in Astronomy (3 credits)
ASTRON 223: Planetary Science (3 credits, usually in spring semester)
ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits.)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester)

Physics Courses:

PHYSIC 181 Physics I – Mechanics ( 4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 284 (and associated lab PHYSIC 286): Modern Physics I (4 credits., Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 287 (and associated lab PHYSIC 289): Physics III – Waves and Thermodynamics (4 credits, Fall semester only)

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters) 

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSICS 151, MATH 131 Spring: PHYSICS 152, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

ASTRON 228 (spring semester), and one additional 200+ level astronomy courses, PHYSICS 281 (fall semester), PHYSICS 284/286 (spring semester), PHYSICS 287/289 (fall semester), MATH 233

Junior/Senior Years:

ASTRON 301 (fall semester), ASTRON 335 (fall semester), ASTRON 339 (spring semester), two additional 200+ level astronomy course and one additional 300+ level astronomy course

BS Astrophysics Track (starting Fall 2023 or later):

BS Astrophysics Track (starting Fall 2023 or later): Hal Marshall

The Astrophysics track is recommended to those students who want to pursue a graduate degree in astrophysics and related fields.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credits, Fall semester only)
ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take either ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) or PHYSICS 440: Intermediate Lab (4 credits, Fall and Spring semesters) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only) ASTRON 452: Astrophysics III: Galaxies and the Universe (4 credits, Spring semester only)

One additional astronomy course (at least 3 credits) at the 300-level or higher. ASTRON 339 cannot be used to satisfy this requirement if used to satisfy the IE requirement. Independent study, practicum, honors project, honors thesis and honors research cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. Recommendations:

ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester)

Most faculty members in astronomy are engaged in basic research and undergraduate research opportunities are available through independent study, honor research and summer internships. Although not required, we encourage students to get involved in research.

Physics Courses:

PHYSICS 181: Physics I – Mechanics ( 4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)
PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only) PHYSICS 271: Mathematical Methods of Physics I (3 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 272: Physics III: Thermodynamics, Optics and Special Relativity (3 credits, Fall semester only) and PHYSICS 273: Sophomore Lab I (2 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 275: Mathematical Methods of Physics II (3 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 276: Physics IV: Introduction to Waves and Quantum Mechanics (3 credits, Spring semester only) and PHYSICS 277: Sophomore Lab II (2 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
PHYSICS 421: Mechanics I (4 credits, Fall semester only)
PHYSICS 422: Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism (4 credits, Spring semester only) PHYSICS 423: Statistical Physics (4 credits, Spring semester only)
PHYSICS 424: Quantum Mechanics (4 credits, Fall semester only)

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSIC 181, MATH 131 Spring: ASTRON 228, PHYSIC 182, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

Fall: PHYSICS 271, PHYSIC 272/273, MATH 233 Spring: PHYSICS 275, PHYSIC 276/277, PHYSICS 281

Junior/Senior Years:

Fall: ASTRON 335, PHYSIC 421, PHYSIC 424, ASTRON 301 Spring: ASTRON 339, ASTRON 452, PHYSIC 422, PHYSIC 423, Either Fall or Spring: one astronomy elective at 300-level or higher

BS Astrophysics Track (starting before Fall 2023):

BS Astrophysics Track (starting before Fall 2023): Hal Marshall

The Astrophysics track is recommended to those students who want to pursue a graduate degree in astrophysics and related fields.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credit, Fall semester only)
ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take either ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) or PHYSICS 440: Intermediate Lab (4 credits, Fall and Spring semesters) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only) ASTRON 452: Astrophysics III: Galaxies and the Universe (4 credits, Spring semester only)

One additional astronomy course (at least 3 credits) at the 300 level or higher. Recommendations:

ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits.)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester)

Most faculty members in astronomy are engaged in basic research and undergraduate research opportunities are available through independent study, honor research and summer internships. Although not required, we encourage students to get involved in research.

Physics Courses:

PHYSICS 181: Physics I – Mechanics ( 4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)
PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only) PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

PHYSICS 282: Techniques of Theoretical Physics (3 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 284 (and associated lab PHYSIC 286): Modern Physics I (4 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 287 (and associated lab PHYSIC 289): Physics III – Waves and Thermodynamics (4 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 421: Mechanics I (4 credits, Fall semester only)
PHYSICS 422: Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism (4 credits, Spring semester only) PHYSICS 423: Statistical Physics (4 credits, Spring semester only)
PHYSICS 424: Quantum Mechanics (4 credits, Fall semester only)

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

MATH 331: Ordinary Differential Equations for Scientists and Engineers (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSIC 181, MATH 131 Spring: ASTRON 228, PHYSIC 182, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

Fall: PHYSIC 281, PHYSIC 287/289. MATH 233 Spring: PHYSIC 282, PHYSIC 284/286, MATH 331

Junior/Senior Years:

Fall: ASTRON 335, PHYSIC 421, PHYSIC 424, ASTRON 301 Spring: ASTRON 339, ASTRON 452, PHYSIC 422, PHYSIC 423, Either Fall or Spring: one elective 300+ course

BS Space Science Track (starting Fall 2023 or later)

BS Space Science Track (starting Fall 2023 or later) Hal Marshall

The Space Science track is recommended for students pursuing an astronomy-related professional career after graduation.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credits, Fall semester only)
ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take either ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) or PHYSICS 440: Intermediate Lab (4 credits, Fall and Spring semesters) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only) or ASTRON 452: Astrophysics III: Galaxies and the Universe (4 credits, Spring semester only)

Three additional courses (at least 3 credits each), two at the 200-level or higher and one at the 300-level or higher. Some options for 200 and 300-level astronomy courses:

ASTRON 220: Special Topics in Astronomy (3 credits) ASTRON 223: Planetary Science (3 credits)
ASTRON 226: Cosmology (3 credits)
ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits.)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester only)

Most faculty members in astronomy are engaged in basic research and undergraduate research opportunities are available through independent study, honor research and summer internships. Although not required, we encourage students to get involved in research.

Physics Courses:

PHYSICS 181: Physics I – Mechanics ( 4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 271: Mathematical Methods of Physics I (3 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 272: Physics III: Thermodynamics, Optics and Special Relativity (3 credits, Fall semester only) and PHYSICS 273: Sophomore Lab I (2 credits, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 276: Physics IV: Introduction to Waves and Quantum Mechanics (3 credits, Spring semester only) and PHYSICS 277: Sophomore Lab II (2 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters) One additional elective Physics course (at least 3 credits) at the 400+ level

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

Concentration Requirement:

Three courses (each at least 3 credits) in a related field. The courses used to satisfy the concentration requirement cannot be used to satisfy any of the requirements listed above. Students should consult with their Department Advisor to formulate a plan. Each student will need to submit a 1 page proposal outlining the 3 courses and the rational behind them. This proposal will need to approved a Department Advisor (the advisor should enter the approved plan in the SPIRE notes).

Examples of Concentration Programs

Astrobiology

  • Bio 151,152+153(lab), 285 (cell and molecular biology)

Astro-Chemistry

  • Chem 111, 112, and 261: The combination of inorganic and organic chemistry will allow students to get a better handle on chemistry as a whole to then apply this basic understanding to spectroscopic results of pre-biotic molecules. Having organic chemistry 1 will open the doors to begin building a better knowledge of the synthesis of molecules, why molecules form in regio-specific manners and adopt certain isomers. It will serve as a foundation for insight into what molecules cannot be found on Earth but why they may be found in interstellar space.

Astronomy and Math

  • Math 235, 331, and 551 (Int Scientific Computing)

  • Math 235, 331, and Statistics 515

Astronomy and Geoscience

  • Geology 311 (Mineralogy), 321 (Petrology), and 445 (Structural Geology): These courses focus on the chemical and physical properties or minerals, rocks and the larger structures rock make up like tectonic plates. These courses are vital for understanding the formation, dynamics, and possible environments of, not only Earth, but also all bodies composed on similar materials.

  • Geology 321 (Petrology), 441 (Structural Geology), 445 (Sedimentology): These classes will provide knowledge that is crucial to understanding the geologic history and evolution of planetary bodies, and by extension the history and possible future for our home planet

  • Geology 201 (History of the Earth), Geology 231 (Geology Field Methods), and Geology 354 (Climatology)

  • Geology 201 (History of the Earth), Geology 231 (Geology Field Methods), and Geology 311 (Mineralogy)

Astronomy and Computer Science

  • Computer Science 187 (Programming with Data Structures)
  • Computer Science 250 (Introduction to Computation)
  • Computer Science 240 (Reasoning under Uncertainty)

Astronomy and Mechanical Engineering

  • MIE 230 (Thermodynamics), MIE 340 (Fluid Mechanics), MIE 354 (Heat Transfer)

  • MIE 211 (Strengths of Materials), MIE 313 (Design of Mechanical Components), and MIE 354 (Heat Transfer)

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSICS 181, MATH 131 Spring: ASTRON 228, PHYSICS 182, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

Fall: PHYSICS 271, PHYSICS 272/273, MATH 233
Spring: PHYSICS 276/277, PHYSICS 281
Fall or Spring: elective 200+ level astronomy courses, concentration courses

Junior/Senior Years:

Fall: ASTRON 301, ASTRON 335 (fall semester)
Spring: ASTRON 339
Fall or Spring: one additional 400+ level physics courses, 200+ and 300+ astronomy electives, concentration courses

BS Space Science Track (starting before Fall 2023)

BS Space Science Track (starting before Fall 2023) Hal Marshall

The Space Science track is recommended for students pursuing an astronomy-related professional career after graduation.

Astronomy Courses:

ASTRON 191A: First Year Seminar (1 credits, Fall semester only)

ASTRON 228: Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies (3 credits, Spring semester only)

JUNIOR YEAR WRITING: Students whose primary major is astronomy should take ASTRON 301: Writing in Astronomy (3 credits, Fall semester only) to satisfy the Junior Year Writing requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need take the junior year writing course offered in their primary major.

INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCE: Students whose primary major is astronomy can take either ASTRON 339: Astronomy in a Global Context (3 credits, Spring semester only) or PHYSICS 440: Intermediate Lab (4 credits, Fall and Spring semesters) to satisfy the Integrative Experience requirement. Students whose primary major is not astronomy, only need to take the integrative experience course offered in their primary major.

ASTRON 335: Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure and Evolution (4 credits, Fall semester only)

Three additional courses (at least 3 credits each) all at the 200 level or higher and one of these three courses must be at the 300 level or higher. The 300+ level course could be in related fields

such as Geoscience or Physics, however need Department Advisor Approval. for 200+ and 300+ level astronomy courses:

ASTRON 220: Special Topics in Astronomy (3 credits) ASTRON 223: Planetary Science (3 credits)
ASTRON 330: Topics in Astrophysics (3 credits.)
ASTRON 337: Techniques of Optical and Infrared Astronomy (4 credits, fall semester only)

Some options

Most faculty members in astronomy are engaged in basic research and undergraduate research opportunities are available through independent study, honor research and summer internships. Although not required, we encourage students to get involved in research.

Physics Courses:

PHYSIC 181 Physics I – Mechanics (4 credits with lab, Fall semester only)

PHYSICS 182: Physics II – Electricity and Magnetics (4 credits with lab, Spring semester only) PHYSICS 281: Computational Physics (3 credits, Fall or Spring semester)

PHYSICS 284 (and associated lab PHYSIC 286): Modern Physics (4 credits, Spring semester only)

PHYSICS 287 (and associated lab PHYSIC 289): Physics III – Waves and Thermodynamics (4 credits, Fall semester only)

One additional elective Physics course (at least 3 credits) at the 400+ level

Math Courses:

MATH 131: Calculus I (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 132: Calculus II (4 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)
MATH 233: Multivariate Calculus (3 credits, Fall or Spring semesters)

Concentration Requirement:

Three courses (each at least 3 credits) in a related field. The courses used to satisfy the concentration requirement cannot be used to satisfy any of the requirements listed above. Students should consult with their Department Advisor to formulate a plan. Each student will need to submit a 1 page proposal outlining the 3 courses and the rational behind them. This proposal will need to approved a Department Advisor (the advisor should enter the approved plan in the SPIRE notes).

Examples of Concentration Programs

Astrobiology

  • Bio 151,152+153(lab), 285 (cell and molecular biology)

Astro-Chemistry

  • Chem 111, 112, and 261: The combination of inorganic and organic chemistry will allow students to get a better handle on chemistry as a whole to then apply this basic understanding to spectroscopic results of pre-biotic molecules. Having organic chemistry 1 will open the doors to begin building a better knowledge of the synthesis of molecules, why molecules form in regio-specific manners and adopt certain isomers. It will serve as a foundation for insight into what molecules cannot be found on Earth but why they may be found in interstellar space.

Astronomy and Math

  • Math 235, 331, and 551 (Int Scientific Computing)
  • Math 235, 331, and Statistics 515

Astronomy and Geoscience

  • Geology 311 (Mineralogy), 321 (Petrology), and 445 (Structural Geology): These courses focus on the chemical and physical properties or minerals, rocks and the larger structures rock make up like tectonic plates. These courses are vital for understanding the formation, dynamics, and possible environments of, not only Earth, but also all bodies composed on similar materials.

  • Geology 321 (Petrology), 441 (Structural Geology), 445 (Sedimentology): These classes will provide knowledge that is crucial to understanding the geologic history and evolution of planetary bodies, and by extension the history and possible future for our home planet

  • Geology 201 (History of the Earth), Geology 231 (Geology Field Methods), and Geology 354 (Climatology)

  • Geology 201 (History of the Earth), Geology 231 (Geology Field Methods), and Geology 311 (Mineralogy)

Astronomy and Computer Science

  • Computer Science 187 (Programming with Data Structures), Computer Science 250 (Introduction to Computation), and Computer Science 240 (Reasoning under Uncertainty)

Astronomy and Mechanical Engineering

  • MIE 230 (Thermodynamics), MIE 340 (Fluid Mechanics), MIE 354 (Heat Transfer)

  • MIE 211 (Strengths of Materials), MIE 313 (Design of Mechanical Components), and MIE 354 (Heat Transfer)

Suggested Course Schedule:

Freshman Year:

Fall: ASTRON 191A, PHYSICS 151/181, MATH 131 Spring: ASTRON 228, PHYSICS 152/182, MATH 132

Sophomore Year:

PHYSICS 281 (fall), PHYSICS 287/289 (fall), PHYSICS 284/286 (spring semester). MATH 233 (fall or spring semester), and two additional 220+ level astronomy courses (fall or spring semester), concentration courses

Junior/Senior Years:

ASTRON 301 (fall semester), ASTRON 335 (fall semester), ASTRON 339 (spring semester), one additional 400+ level physics courses (fall or spring) and one additional 300+ level astronomy course (fall or spring), concentration courses

Honors in Astronomy

Honors in Astronomy Hal Marshall

Departmental Honors is an Advanced Scholarship track of Commonwealth Honors College.

Students may complete Departmental Honors as part of the full Commonwealth Honors College curriculum, which includes Honors General Studies, or they may complete Departmental Honors alone.

Students who are not already members of Commonwealth Honors College must apply to Departmental Honors via the online application. Admission to Departmental Honors will be at the discretion of the Honors Program Director. Minimally, to be eligible to apply for Departmental Honors, students must have

  • an overall GPA of 3.40 or higher earned after one fulltime semester of UMass Amherst coursework,

  • the ability to complete the Departmental Honors-Track requirements, and

  • the ability to complete the Commonwealth Honors College residency requirement of 45 graded credits (not pass/fail) earned at UMass Amherst (not transferred).
    The Astronomy requirements for the completion of Departmental Honors are the following:

  • One honors course chosen from ASTRON 335, 337 or 452

  • One additional astronomy honors course 300-level or higher

  • Honors Thesis or Project (students will need to sign up for ASTRON 499Y and 499T and file a proposal with the Commonwealth Honors College ). A thesis proposal should be submitted to the department Honors Program Director for approval at least one week in advance of the Honors College deadline.

For more information about Departmental Honors in Astronomy, contact our Honors Program Director Professor Min Yun.

Minor in Astronomy

Minor in Astronomy Hal Marshall

Requirements for a Minor in astronomy consists of taking ASTRON 228 and four additional astronomy courses at the 200+ level.

Five College Interchange

Five College Interchange Hal Marshall

The undergraduate curriculum is shared among the Five Colleges, therefore you may want or need to take an astronomy course at one of the other campuses. Enrollment for these off-campus classes are handled by the Five College Interchange office located in 613 Goodell.

Step by Step Instructions

Identify course(s) from Five College Course Catalog. Do not request more than 8 credits at any one institution.

  1. Log into Spire
  2. Go to Manage Classes
  3. Go to Add/Drop/edit Classes
  4. Scroll down to FIVE COLLEGE ENROLLMENT
  5. Click on FIVE COLLEGE ENROLLMENT
    • Fill in all the information about the course.
    • The Five College Registration page appears, read and click through to the request Form.
    • You will see a Course Registration Receipt. Save the Registration receipt as a PDF not as a picture or screen shot.
    • Click Submit. YOU ARE NOT DONE
  6. If the Registration Receipt says you must get instructor permission (always the case during add-drop at the beginning of the semester, not always the case during pre-registration) email the instructor, attaching the receipt for a signature.
  7. If the instructor cannot sign the actual form, an email verifying approval to enroll in the class is sufficient. YOU ARE NOT DONE.
  8. Email the PDF Registration Receipt and instructor approval (5collreg@acad.umass.edu.) If the instructor approval is an email, please submit it with the PDF Registration Receipt in the same email.
  9. The Five College Interchange office will process the Registration Receipt if there are enough credits available on your schedule to add the course. It is your responsibility to ensure you have enough credits ailable.
  10. You can check the status of the Registration on the Spire page in the Five College Enrollment
  11. Please send one email for each course, attaching the receipt and if required the instructor permission.

By submitting your Five College Registration Receipt, YOU AGREE to abide by all academic and student conduct regulations at the host school, including attendance, academic honesty, pass-fail procedures, and deadlines for completing course work and taking examinations.

Registration dates are strict, so be sure to know when they occur. For additional information go to the following website: http://www.umass.edu/fivecollegeinterchange/

Independent Study

Independent Study Hal Marshall

Students may wish to concentrate on topics or research outside to the classroom. Opportunities for this type of investigation exist through the Independent Study courses (ASTRON 196, 296, 396 and 496). These courses are arranged on a semester basis between a student and a professor. Depending on the type of activity, these classes generally range from 1 to 3 credits.

There are also many summer intern programs in astronomy. A list of these Research Experiences for Undergraduates can be found on the American Astronomical Society's website.

In addition to the REU programs funded by the National Science Foundation and listed on the AAS website, the Five College Astronomy Department runs a summer research internship program each summer for astronomy students within the Five Colleges. We encourage students to take advantage of these internship programs.

Scholarships, Internships, and Career Information

Scholarships, Internships, and Career Information Hal Marshall

The College of Natural Sciences is your primary source of general scholarships. You have access to additional general scholarships if you are a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

For Internships and Career Information advice, we recommend starting on the AAS Career and AstroBetter websites to educate yourself first. Most of the national and international opportunities are found there.