Degree Option

Bachelor of Science with a major in astronomy.

Description of Program

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a major directed toward a career in astronomy. The first-year and sophomore program includes a combined concentration in astronomy, physics and mathematics.

Most professional positions in astronomy and astrophysics generally require study leading to the Ph.D. degree. Opportunities include research positions in observatories, often in conjunction with university teaching, and scientific positions in government agencies and industry.

Approximately 15 students are enrolled in the major. Average class size is 7 students; many classes are shared with physics majors.

Requirements for Major

The Bachelor of Science degree requires a minimum of 49 credit hours in astronomy and physics courses in a program to be developed by the student and the adviser and approved by the department. The upper division program concentrates on astrophysics with courses in such areas as mechanics, electromagnetic theory, space and astrophysics.

All programs include the following common core of astronomy and physics courses in the first two years:

First and sophomore years

  • Astronomy 1 & 1L (Descriptive Astronomy and Lab)
  • Physics 5 (Topics in Physics)
  • Physics 1 (Introductory Physics I)
  • Astronomy 41 (General Astronomy)
  • Physics 2 (Introductory Physics II)
  • Physics 50 (Modern Physics)
  • Physics 59 (Advanced Laboratory I)
  • Physics 61 (Error Theory)
  • Physics 191 (Physics Seminar)

Minimum degree requirements also include:

  • Astronomy 185 (Introduction to Astrophysics I — Stars)
  • Astronomy 195 (Introduction to Astrophysics II — Galaxies and Cosmology)
  • Physics 121 (Theoretical Mechanics)
  • Physics 122 (Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory)
  • Physics 182 (Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics)
  • Physics 192, 193 (Physics Seminar II, III)

Select one course from the following:

  • Physics 149 (Advanced (Laboratory II)
  • Physics 159 (Advanced Laboratory III)

A Senior Capstone Experience is required, which may be either an NSF-sponsored REU experience between the junior and senior years, or one of the courses Physics 197 or 198 — Research Participation taken during the senior year.

Requirements for all programs also include General Chemistry I with laboratory, and related courses in mathematics and computer science appropriate to the options chosen by the student.

Depending on the student’s career goals, the academic adviser may recommend additional courses chosen from electives. The following courses are highly recommended for students going to graduate school:

  • Physics 133 (Electronics)
  • Physics 181 (Quantum Theory)
  • Physics 188 (Advanced Classical Physics)
  • Chemistry 2 and 4 (General Chemistry II with laboratory)
University News
February 17, 2017
Drake University students will have new options for international studies beginning in fall 2017.