Departments & Programs


Departmental Honors Program

The honors program is designed for superior students who plan to pursue graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics. Students wishing to pursue the honors program should contact the undergraduate advisor in the Department of Astronomy during the second semester of their sophomore year or first semester of their junior year. To be admitted to the honors program, students must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.300 and a minimum GPA of 3.300 in their astronomy, mathematics, and physics courses. Students must maintain these GPAs to receive a degree with honors in astronomy and astrophysics.

In the honors program, students complete the same requirements as for the regular B.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics and in addition take Astronomy S499 Honors Research. Astronomy S499 is to be taken one or both semesters during the senior year and counts for 3 credits each time it is taken. Students will carry out research supervised by a faculty member in the department. During the second semester of the senior year, the student will write a research report and make an oral presentation describing the work to the Department of Astronomy in a minicolloquium.

A Sample Schedule for Honors Astronomy and Astrophysics Program

The following schedule is just an example, and there is considerable flexibility in how to schedule courses. Those considering a career in astronomy, astrophysics, or a related field should consider a more accelerated schedule, though it's also possible to complete the major requirements even if one begins taking the required courses as late as the beginning of the sophomore year. Regardless, students are strongly encouraged to seek advice in the Astronomy Department as soon as possible, to determine what kind of schedule best suits their needs and goals.


  • Mathematics M211-M212
  • Physics P221-P222
  • Astronomy A221-A222 (Students with good high school preparation in physics and mathematics are encouraged to take A221-A222 during the freshman year.)


  • Mathematics M311 and M343
  • Physics P301
  • Astronomy A221-A222 (if not taken during freshman year)


  • Physics P331-P332 and P453 (if taking the P453-P454 sequence). P453 is taught in the spring semester, and P454 is taught in the fall semester.
  • Astronomy, one or two of A305, A451, A452, or A453 (A305, A451, and A452 are offered in alternate years.)


  • Physics, one (if already taken P453) or two (if P453 not taken) of P441, P442, P453, P454
  • Astronomy, two of A305, A451, A452, A453; or one and S499 for Honors Program.