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BS Degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The B.S. degree is a professional program intended primarily to prepare students for graduate school and a career in astronomy. Students enrolled in this program use the telescopes at Kirkwood Observatory and on the roof of Swain Hall West, as well as the computing facilities in Swain Hall.

Students must complete the following fundamental skills and distribution requirements for the B.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

1. Writing, same as the general requirements for the B.A. degree (Intensive Writing, English Composition).
2. Foreign language, 3 credit hours (or the equivalent) at or above the second-year level.
     French, Spanish, German, or Russian is normally required.
3. Arts and humanities, two courses.
4. Social and historical studies, two courses.
5. Mathematics and physical sciences, fulfilled by major.
6. One Critical Approaches to the Arts and Sciences course.
7. One Public Oral Communications course.

Concentration Requirements:

1. Astronomy: A221-A222, A305, and two 400 level courses other than S499.
2. Physics: P221-P222, P301, P331-P332, and two of P441, P442, P453 or P454.
3. Mathematics: M211, M212, M311, and M343.

Students must also complete the requirements and procedures listed under CASE Credit Hour and Residency Requirements and CASE Curricular Requirements in the student bulletin.


The following courses are recommended:

  • Mathematics M303, M312, M344 (or M441-442), M415
  • Physics P340, P309, P321, P460; the two of P441, P442, P453, P454 not taken above
  • Computer Science C211 or C311

Recommended Schedule for B.S. Degree Program Students

Freshman Mathematics M211-M212; Physics P221-P222

Sophomore Astronomy A221-A222; Mathematics M311 and M343; Physics P301

Junior Astronomy A305 and one 400-level astronomy course; Physics P331-P332 and P453

Senior One 400-level astronomy course and AST-A305 (if not taken earlier); Physics P441, P442, or P454; also AST-S499, if in the Honors Program

Note to transfer students: Taking the required courses in the proper order is critically important, and it normally takes three years at IU to do so. If you're planning to transfer to IU for upper division coursework in this major, your pathway at IU will be expedited if you receive transfer credit for at least M211-212, P221-222, and for A221-222.

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 an overall GPA of 3.3 and a GPA of 3.3 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 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, counting 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 mini-colloquium. Recent senior theses include research on a wide range of astronomical problems, carried out in close collaboration with faculty.

Dual Degree in Physics (BS) and Astronomy and Astrophysics (BS)

As many of the course requirements are similar, careful selection of courses will allow students to earn a dual degree in Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics with only a modest additional course load. More information about the required courses for this academic option is available through this link.

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the official source of information regarding College of Arts and Sciences degree requirements is the College of Arts and Sciences web page