This B.A. program is designed to meet student needs for training in space sciences, including astronomy, astrophysics, planetary sciences, and space physics. Students pursuing this major have the option of following one of two tracks: General Astronomy, housed in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS); or Astrophysics/ Physics, jointly supervised by APS and the Department of Physics. 

The General Astronomy track highlights the science of astronomy, observation, and technology. As a major in this track, you receive core training in astronomical sciences, mathematics, applied physics, and computational and instrumental technology needed for professions in the space sciences. 

The Astrophysics/Physics track is directed toward students interested in pursuing graduate studies in astrophysics. The track is multidisciplinary in focus with work in physics, mathematics and astronomy. Upon graduation, students should have solid technological training in the space sciences, including mathematical, physical, computational, and instrumental expertise.

The Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences—which administers both tracks—is one of the few programs that combines both astrophysics and planetary science, providing a unified view of space sciences, the solar system, and comparative planetology, stellar and galactic astronomy, and cosmology. You will be exposed to hands-on experience with telescopes, optics, instrumentation, and computer image processing and modeling. 

The General Astronomy track lends itself to a career in education, science journalism, science policy, information technology, science management or technical work that does not require a graduate degree. The Astrophysics/Physics track is intended for students who wish to do research and continue on to graduate work in astronomy or planetary sciences. This track also lends itself well to a career in technical work related to the field.

Career Services (www.colorado.edu/career) helps students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work.

Career Services offers free services for all CU-Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation. Meet individually the staff to discuss major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.

The APS Department is affiliated with many different research labs, both within the university (CASA, LASP, JILA) and in the Boulder area (High Altitude Observatory/NCAR, NOAA, NIST, Southwest Research Institute). These affiliations often lead to research opportunities for students in the major. You may also choose to work with APS faculty on independent research projects that use the Sommers-Bausch Observatory, the 3.5m Apache Point Observatory, or the Fiske Planetarium. The department also encourages faculty-advised research and theses.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data, and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596.

You may want to enrich your undergraduate years with a study abroad. The university offers more than 100 programs throughout the world, where you may spend a few weeks to a full academic year, depending on the program you select. Programs also offer credit.

Prior language study or other prerequisites are necessary for some programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from the Office of International Education in the Center for Community, by phone 303-492-7741, or http://studyabroad.colorado.edu/.

Four Year Plan

Please speak with your advisor for specific recommendations; the following is intended to be a general outline only and there may be flexibility to this plan.

Astrophysics 4-Year Plan
Average 30 credits per year

 

First Year – Fall Semester
ASTR 1030
(4): Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 1
PHYS 1110 (4) or PHYS 1115 (4): Calculus-based General Physics 1
MATH 1300 (5): Calculus 1 or APPM 1350 (4): Calculus 1 for Engineers
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (ex: Lower-Division Written Communication)  

First Year – Spring Semester
ASTR 1040
(4): Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 2       
PHYS 1120 (4) or PHYS 1125 (4): Calculus-based General Physics 2
PHYS 1140 (1): Experimental Physics 1       
MATH 2300 (5): Calculus 2 or APPM 1360 (4) Calculus 2 for Engineers
CORE (3): Content Area of Study (see Degree Audit for options)               


Second Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 2170
(3): Foundations of Modern Physics     
PHYS 2150 (1): Experimental Modern Physics        
MATH 2400 (4): Calculus 3 or APPM 2350 (4): Calculus 3 for Engineers
MATH 3130 (3): Intro to Linear Algebra or CORE (3)          
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Second Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 2210
(3): Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods I 
MATH 3430 (3) or APPM 2360 (4) Differential Equations
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective (3)


Third Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 3210
(3): Classical Mechanics and Mathematical Methods II
PHYS 3310 (3): Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 1
ASTR 3750 (3):  Planets, Moons and Rings or ASTR 3730 (3): Astrophysics 1: Stellar and Interstellar (Part one of required sequence)
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (example: Upper-Division Written Communication)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Third Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 3220
(3): Quantum Mechanics
PHYS 3320 (3): Principles of Electricity and Magnetism 2
ASTR 3720 (3):  Planets and their Atmospheres or ASTR 3830 (3): Astrophysics 2: Galactic and Extragalactic (Part two of required sequence)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective (3)


Fourth Year – Fall Semester
ASTR
(3): Upper-Division Elective (Three courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
ASTR (3): Upper-Division Elective (Three courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective (3)
Elective (3)

Fourth Year – Spring Semester
ASTR
(3): Upper-Division Elective (Three courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
Elective (3)
Elective (3)
Elective (3)
Elective (3)

Please speak with your advisor for specific recommendations; the following is intended to be a general outline only and there may be flexibility to this plan.

 

General Astronomy 4-Year Plan
Average 30 credits per year

 

First Year – Fall Semester
ASTR 1030
(4): Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 1       
MATH 1300 (5): Calculus 1 or APPM 1350 (4): Calculus 1 for Engineers
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (ex: Lower-Division Written Communication)
Elective (3)

First Year – Spring Semester
ASTR 1040
(4): Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 2                   
MATH 2300 (5): Calculus 2 or APPM 1360 (4) Calculus 2 for Engineers
CORE (3): Content Area of Study (see Degree Audit for options)
Elective (3)


Second Year – Fall Semester
PHYS 1110
(4) or PHYS 1115 (4): Calculus-based Intro Physics 1      
MATH 2400 (4): Calculus 3 or APPM 2350 (4): Calculus 3 for Engineers (optional Calculus 3 course)
ASTR (3): 2000-level 
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective (3)

Second Year – Spring Semester
PHYS 1120
(4) or PHYS 1125 (4): Calculus-based Intro Physics 2      
PHYS 1140 (1): Experimental Physics 1 Lab
ASTR 2600 (3): Computational Techniques or ASTR 2500 (3): Gateway to Space
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
Elective (3)


Third Year – Fall Semester
ASTR 3750
(3):  Planets, Moons and Rings or ASTR 3730 (3): Astrophysics 1: Stellar and Interstellar (Part one of required sequence)
ASTR (3): 2000-level
Natural Science Sequence with lab part one (3-5): e.g., GEOL, EBIO, CHEM, ATOC
CORE (3): Skills Acquisition (example: Upper-Division Written Communication)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study

Third Year – Spring Semester
ASTR 3720
(3):  Planets and their Atmospheres or ASTR 3830 (3): Astrophysics 2: Galactic and Extragalactic (Part two of required sequence)
ASTR (3): Upper-Division Elective (see Degree Audit for choices)
Natural Science Sequence with lab part two (3-5): e.g., GEOL, EBIO, CHEM, ATOC
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
CORE (3): Content Area of Study


Fourth Year – Fall Semester
ASTR
(3): Upper-Division Elective (see Degree Audit for choices)
ASTR (3): Upper-Division Elective (see Degree Audit for choices)
CORE (3): Content Area of Study
UD Elective (3)
UD Elective (3)

Fourth Year – Spring Semester
ASTR
(3): Upper-Division Elective (Three courses required, see Degree Audit for choices)
UD Elective (3)
UD Elective (3)
UD Elective (3)
UD Elective (3)