The APS Department is one of the few programs to combine both astrophysics and planetary science. As a result, we provide a unified view of solar and space sciences, planetary systems (our Solar System and others!), stellar and galactic astronomy, and cosmology. We also offer hands-on experience with telescopes, optics, instrumentation, computer image processing, and computer modeling. These skills are useful for students wishing to pursue graduate degrees or careers in aerospace, technical, or computer industries.
The University of Colorado is recognized as a top university in the exploration and study of space. Our faculty members carry out forefront research in a wide range of disciplines, from theoretical cosmology to finding planets around other stars, from observing cosmic microwave background in Antarctica to building space probes to explore Mars' atmosphere. We offer many types of research opportunities for undergraduates including research-based courses, student positions that support research programs, and individual research projects with faculty. Students can apply for funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. The Honors Program encourages students to write research theses to qualify for Latin Honors upon graduation.
Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy
The Astronomy degree highlights the science of astronomy, observation and technology. As a major on this track, students receive core training in astronomy, mathematics, physics, and computational and instrumental technology. These skills prepare students for professions in space sciences and a range of other careers in education, science, and technology. The Astronomy degree is also designed to provide opportunities for students to explore a minor or second major in a complementary area of study.
The Astrophysics/Physics addition shares the same foundational astronomy, math, and physics course sequences as the Astronomy degree for the first two semesters, but then focuses on more advanced work in these topics. The track is jointly administered with the Department of Physics and requires substantial upper-division work in this field. Upon graduation, students should have solid theoretical and applied training for careers or graduate studies in the space sciences.
Students may declare either track when beginning their coursework, or wait until completion of their foundational courses in astronomy, physics, and mathematics (usually after the first 2-3 semesters). Students are mentored in groups during these first semesters, but meet individually with an APS faculty member every semester thereafter to discuss their academic progress and post-graduation plans.
We encourage all students to explore and share their enthusiasm for science and we support a wide range of extra-curricular activities. These include student groups, the Learning Assistant program, research activities, and public outreach. The Sommers-Bausch Observatory and Fiske Planetarium offer opportunities for undergraduate students to become involved.
We offer you the ability to graduate with honors. This requires you maintain a minimum GPA and that you write and defend an honors thesis. More information can be obtained from the APS department office and/or the Honors Council Representative (Ann-Marie Madigan). More general information about the honors thesis is on CU-Boulder's Honors Program page.
Declaration of a minor in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder. Coursework applied to the minor may be applied to another major or towards General Education requirements. Astronomy Minor requirements can be found here.
For further information concerning undergraduate studies, contact:
Undergraduate Program Assistant
Office: Duane Physics, Room E-226