BS in Physics and Astronomy

The BS degree is an intensive program that helps prepare students for graduate studies in astronomy, physics, or a related field. Students planning to attend graduate school normally elect the BS program.

Four Year Worksheet: Bachelor of Science in Physics & Astronomy

Pre-Concentration Requirements

Before starting with the requirements for the BS degree, each student must also complete the following pre-concentration requirements:

One of the following calculus sequences:

  • MTH 161, 162, 164, and 165
  • MTH 171, 172, 173, and 174

Three introductory physics courses*:

  • PHY 121: Mechanics or PHY 141: Mechanics (Honors)
  • PHY 122: Electricity and Magnetism or PHY 142: Electricity and Magetism (Honors)
  • PHY 123: Waves and Modern Physics or PHY 143: Waved and Modern Physics (Honors)

*PHY 141, 142, and 143 are encouraged for Physics and Astronomy majors

We also strongly recommend that all students take AST 111: The Solar System and It's Origins during the first year, and AST 142: Elementary Astrophysics (Honors) sophomore year.  

Concentration Requirements

Three of the following:

  • PHY 231: Gravitation and General Relativity
  • AST 232: The Milkyway Galaxy
  • AST 233: Astrodynamics
  • AST 241: Stellar Astrophysics
  • AST 242: Galaxies & Cosmology
  • AST 243: Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
  • AST 244W: Observational Astronomy
  • AST 265: Physics of Planetary Interiors

Six of the following*:

  • PHY 217: Electricity and Magnetism I
  • PHY 218: Electricity and Magnetism II
  • PHY 227: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • PHY 235W: Classical Mechanics
  • PHY 237: Quantum Mechanics of Physical Systems
  • PHY 243W: Advanced Experimental Techniques I
  • PHY 244W: Advanced Experimental Techniques II
  • PHY 245W: The Advanced Nuclear Science Education Laboratory
  • PHY 246: Quantum Theory
  • AST 393W: Senior Thesis

*PHY 218 or 243W are recommended.

Two courses in advanced mathematics:

  • MTH 281: Applied Boundary Value Problems is required
  • MTH 282: Introduction to Complex Variables with Applications or OPT 287: Mathematical Methods for Optics and Physics is recommended

The computer literacy requirement can be satisfied by:

  • Taking PHY 256: Computational Physics or
  • Taking CSC 171: The Science of Programming or 
  • Taking CSC 161: Intro to Programming or
  • Taking CSC 160: Engineering Computing or 
  • Completing a computing-based problem approved by the department's undergraduate physics advisor or
  • Having a faculty member certify computer literacy
    • (Note: If you take a CSC course to satisfy the requirement, we recommend you take it in your first year. If you take PHY 256, we recommend you take it in your sophmore year.)

At least a 2.0 (C) average in astronomy, physics and mathematics courses must be maintained. The undergraduate astronomy advisor must approve all course choices.

Note: As a general rule, graduate-level courses cannot be substituted for undergraduate core requirements. Well-prepared students can however consider taking graduate courses for which they are well prepared, as electives. Specific questions can be addressed to the Physics, or Physics and Astronomy major advisor.