The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program gives students the tools and the knowledge they need to reach for the stars. Working in the Campus Observatory Complex, an exceptional environment that takes advantage of Prescott’s high altitude and clear skies, students get to master astrophysics, quantum mechanics and more through hands-on experiences with the instruments that unlock the secrets of the skies. Students also have access to the Hubble Space Telescope and research programs at NASA and the National Science Foundation.
While most astronomers hold advanced degrees, there are astronomy careers that do not require graduate study, including space-based and ground-based observatory technician and operators, astronomical instrumentation development, commercial and military satellite operations, secondary education, science journalism, and financial analysis.
The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy degree is housed in the Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences.
B.S. in Astronomy
The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a program designed to prepare students for work in space-related and aerospace-related industries, academic and government research laboratories, graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics, and other careers such as science education. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects such as planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as the Universe as a whole. Astronomers apply the fundamental laws of physics to celestial objects to understand the appearance and behavior of those objects. Students will explore objects ranging from the nearby (e.g., the Solar System) to the farthest reaches of the Universe and its origin (e.g., cosmology and the Big Bang).
In addition to classroom learning, students will gain hands-on experience with astronomical equipment, such as telescopes and sophisticated electronic cameras, using the Campus Observatory Complex. Students will learn how to plan, execute, and analyze astronomical observations. In their senior year, students satisfying course and GPA requirements have the option of completing a senior research thesis project in an area of interest that overlaps with the research interests of a supervising faculty member. Opportunities also exist before the senior year for student-faculty research projects. Whether contributing to the fundamental knowledge of astronomical objects, furthering space exploration, or engaging in one of an additional variety of available careers, graduates of this program will be prepared to become leaders in space-related fields.
To enter this program, students must have completed four years of high school science and mathematics, demonstrating a high level of competency. Successful candidates for this program will be prepared to enter Calculus I, Physics I, and General Chemistry and must have a good command of written English.
The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a 120 credit hour program that can be completed in eight semesters. The list of courses below comprises the complete requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Astronomy. The list is organized as a “vertical outline” according to the year and semester in which the courses would normally be taken. While it is not a requirement that the courses be taken during the year shown, students should be aware that several courses in each academic year may have prerequisites and/or corequisites. Therefore, it is recommended that students keep their schedule as close as possible to the one shown below. Before registering for a course, check the course descriptions to ensure that all prerequisites and/or corequisites are met. Note that prerequisites for a course are only considered met if the student obtained a grade of “C” or better in the prerequisite courses.
Students may not pursue both an Astronomy B.S. degree and a Space Physics B.S. degree. However, also note that the degree requirements for the first three semesters of both degree programs can be satisfied with the same courses. Thus, a student who is making appropriate progress in either the Astronomy or Space Physics degree programs can switch to the other program after the third semester with a complete transfer of credit from one program to the other.