College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2013-2014

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Astronomy, Bachelor of Science

In the words of NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla, “When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.”


What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Science in Astronomy?

Did you spend most of your childhood behind a telescope? Do you have a habit of thinking about very big things, like the universe? If you ponder the big questions, then maybe you're an astronomer in the making. Indulge your scientific curiosity and build a career path. The science of astronomy uses the laws of physics to reveal the nature of celestial objects. Our program focuses on astrophysics and planetary science. You will be encouraged to think independently and to join in faculty research projects. You'll benefit from our proximity to world-class Lowell Observatory and the university's own new twenty-inch research-class telescope. If you want to search for planets outside the solar system, you'll receive the guidance you need at Northern Arizona University. Find your way to questions you haven't yet learned to ask.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Research assistant
  • Telescope operator
  • Industrial researcher
  • Scientific programmer
  • Defense industry team member

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Planetary scientist
  • Researcher
  • University professor
  • Optical engineer

University Requirements

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 45-46 units of major requirements
  • Be aware that you may not use courses with an AST prefix to satisfy liberal studies requirements
  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 239
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link Not Available


Major Requirements
      • *PHY 171 is recommended in consultation with your advisor.
    • PHY 333W (3 units)
    • Select one of the following capstone options:
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

Additional Information
  • Please note that you may not count more than one grade below a "C" in a physics or astronomy course toward the major requirements for this degree.

  • MAT 136, MAT 137, MAT 238, MAT 239, and PHY 301 are not required for this degree, but are prerequisites for other courses. (You may be able to count these prerequisites toward your liberal studies or general elective credit.)
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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