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The B.A. Major in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The Department of Astronomy offers courses toward the B.A. major in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The B.A. major is designed for students who are interested in astronomy as the subject of a liberal arts education, or as a background in the physical sciences for a wide range of career possibilities such as teaching, journalism, law, government, public policy, medicine, science writing, science in the media, visualization, and business. The B.A. major allows greater flexibility in the selection of courses than does the B.S. because the focus is on breadth of knowledge rather than on depth or specialization. Students who wish to pursue graduate studies in astronomy in the future should instead pursue the B.S. major.

The B.A. major in Astronomy and Astrophysics is for a student who:

  • enjoys astronomy
  • likes to be challenged
  • enjoys solving puzzles
  • wants to pursue other interests and talents outside of astronomy
  • desires flexibility and choice in major requirements
  • has strong analytical skills and wants to develop them further
  • wants to keep options open for a variety of career fields.

B.A. Major Requirements

Students must complete the B.A. Degree requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, including CASE Curricular and CASE Credit Hour and Residency Requirements. The following course requirements for a BA degree with a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics meets the College requirement that students must complete at least 30 credit hours in the major:

1. Mathematics Core. Complete both of the following:

  • a. MATH-M 119 Brief Survey of Calculus I or MATH-M 211 Calculus I
  • b. MATH-M 120 Brief Survey of Calculus II or MATH-M 212 Calculus II

2. Physics Core. Complete a-c below:

  • a. PHYS-P 201 General Physics I or PHYS-P 221 Physics I
  • b. PHYS-P 202 General Physics II or PHYS-P 222 Physics II
  • c. PHYS-P 301 or PHYS-P 371

3. Astronomy Core. Complete a-c below:

  • a. AST-A 221 General Astronomy I
  • b. AST-A 222 General Astronomy II
  • c. AST-A 305 Modern Observational Techniques

4. Advanced Astronomy Courses.

  • Complete at least two (2) additional courses at the 300-400 level, excluding AST-X 390, AST-X 399, or AST-S 499.

5. Advanced Electives. Complete at least five (5) additional credit hours of electives at the 300-400 level selected from the following:

  • Addtional Astronomy and Astrophysics courses: Any 300-400 level AST course, including AST-X 390 and AST-X 399, but not AST-S 499
  • Probability/Statistics courses: Select up to one (1) of the following courses: MATH-K 310, MATH-M365, STAT-K 310, STAT-S 320.
  • Scientific Computing or Programing courses: Select up to one (1) of the following courses: CSCI-A 321, CSCI-C 311, PHYS-P 325, PHYS-P 410.
  • Data Mining courses: CSCI-B 461
  • Visualization courses: CSCI-B 461
  • Artificial Intelligence or Autonomous Robotics courses: CSCI-B 351 or CSCI-B 355
  • Science Writing courses: Select up to one (1) of the following courses: ENG-W 321, ENG-W 350, or MSCH-J 360 (science writing topic only)
  • Mathematics or Physics courses: MATH-M303, MATH-M 311, MATH-M 336, MATH-M 343, MATH-M 415, MATH-M 455, PHYS-P 309, PHYS-P 321, PHYS-P 331, PHYS-P 332, PHYS-P 340, PHYS-P 400, PHYS-P 441, PHYS-P 451, PHYS-P 453, PHYS-P 455, PHYS-P 460
  • Related courses approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Note to transfer students: Taking the required courses in the proper order is critically important, and it normally takes three years at IU to do so. If you're planning to transfer to IU for upper division coursework in this major, your pathway at IU will be expedited if you receive transfer credit for MATH-M119-120, PHYS-P201-202 or P221-222, and for AST-A221-222.

Recommended Schedule for B.A. Program Students

Freshman Mathematics M119-120 or M211-212; Physics P201-202 or P221-P222

Sophomore Astronomy A221-A222; Physics P301

Junior Advanced courses in Astronomy (AST-A305 and 400-level courses) and related fields

Senior Advanced courses in Astronomy (400-level courses and AST-A305, if not taken previously) and related fields

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the official source of information regarding College of Arts and Sciences degree requirements is the College of Arts and Sciences web page