# Undergraduate Studies

**Information for Astronomy Majors**

The Astronomy Major at Cornell University is designed to be flexible so that it can be customized to the needs of each student. There is a common core set of courses followed by two concentration paths:

The ** Astrophysics Concentration **is designed for those who intend to go on to graduate school in the physical
sciences such
as Astronomy,
Physics,
or
Engineering.

The ** General Astronomy Concentration **is intended for students who do not plan on research careers in astronomy, but may have more broad intellectual interests, and are interested in related career paths, such as education or public outreach. The flexibility
offered by the General Astronomy Concentration
make it suitable to be elected as second major by broad group of students.

To apply for a major in Astronomy, please contact the Astronomy DUS.

### Astronomy Major Core Requirements

The Astronomy Major consists of three core courses in Physics, three in Mathematics and an experimental or data analysis course in Astronomy that are required for every concentration (27-28 credits total), plus additional courses specifically called out to meet the needs of each individual concentration. To enter the major, a student must have completed at least two Physics, and two Mathematics core courses as listed below with a GPA of at least 2.7. To count towards the major, the minimum grade for any required course is C-. The major is normally entered into after consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in astronomy during the student’s fourth semester of work at Cornell. The DUS and student together will also select a suitable faculty advisor in the Field of Astronomy at this time. The required core courses are:

**T****h****ree semesters of
Physics **including:

** P****H****YS 1112 (4 credit hours) **Physics I: Mechanics
& Heat

* o**r ***PHYS 1116 (4) **Physics I: Mechanics
and
Special Relativity

** P****H****YS 2213 (4) **Physics II: Electromagnetism

* o**r ***P****H****YS 2217 (4) **Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism

**PHYS
2214 (4) **Physics III: Oscillation,
Waves and Quantum Physics

* o**r ***P****H****YS 2218 (4) **Physics III: Waves and Thermal Physics

**T****h****ree Semesters of
Mathematics **including:

** M****ATH 1910 (4) **Calculus for Engineers

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 1120 (4) **Calculus II

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 1220 (4) **Honors Calculus II

** M****ATH 1920 (4) **Multivariable Calculus
for Engineers

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 2220 (4) **Multivariable Calculus

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 2240 (4) **Theoretical Linear
Algebra and
Calculus

** M****ATH 2930 (4) **Differential Equations for Engineers

or **MATH 4710 (4) **Basic
Probability

or **ASTRO 3340 (4) **Symbolic and Numerical Computing

**On****e Experimental or Data Analysis Course in Astronomy
**chosen from:

** ASTRO 4410 (4) **Experimental
Astronomy

* o**r ***ASTRO 3310 (3) **Planetary Image Processing

* o**r ***ASTRO 3334 (3) **Modern Astrophysical Techniques

*F**o**r those pursuing an Astrophysics Concentration, ASTRO 4410 is required.*

In addition to these core requirements, each Astronomy Major must complete a ** Concentration **in either

**or**

*Astrophysics***, which is an additional set of 9-10 courses concentrated in areas relevant to their future career goals.**

*General Astronomy*### Astrophysics Concentration

The Astrophysics Concentration is designed for those who intend to go on to graduate school in the physical sciences such as Astronomy, Physics, or Engineering. To enter the Astrophysics Concentration, the student must normally have a GPA better than 3.2 in the Astronomy Major Core Courses. The Astrophysics Concentration requires the following additional 10 courses (39 credit hours total):

**Tw****o Semesters of
Advanced Astrophysics **selected from two of the three courses
in
the ASTR 4431, 4432, 4433 sequence:

** ASTRO 4431 (4) **Introduction
to Astrophysics and Space Science I

** ASTRO 4432 (4) **Introduction
to Astrophysics and Space Science II

** ASTRO 4433 (4) **Introduction to Cosmology

**F****ive semesters of Physics **including:

** PHYS 3316 (3) **Basics of Quantum Mechanics

** PHYS 3314 (4) **Intermediate Mechanics

* o**r ***PHYS 3318 (4) **Analytical Mechanics

** PHYS 3323 (4) **Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism

* or ***PHYS 3327 (4) **Advanced Electricity and Magnetism

** PHYS 4230 (4) **Statistical Thermodynamics

*or ***AEP 4230 (4) **Statistical Thermodynamics

** PHYS 4443 (4) **Intermediate
Quantum Mechanics

**T****h****ree Semesters of
Mathematics **including:

** M****ATH 2940 (4) **Linear
Algebra for Engineers

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 2210 (4) **Linear
Algebra

* o**r ***M****A****T****H 2230 (4) **Theoretical Linear
Algebra and
Calculus

** AEP 4210 (4) **Mathematical Physics I

** AEP 4220 (4) **Mathematical Physics II

**Research Experience**:

It is highly recommended that a student with an Astrophysics concentration have at least as semester or summer research experience under the guidance of a faculty member in the Astronomy Field.

**Course/Credit Count. **The requirements for the Astronomy Major with an Astrophysics Concentration
are
therefore *16 courses totaling 66-67 credit hours.*

### General Astronomy Concentration

The General Astronomy Concentration is designed for students who may not plan on a research career in astronomy, but plan careers in related fields such as education, or public outreach. The flexibility offered by the General Astronomy Concentration make it suitable to be elected as second major by broad group of students. The General Astronomy Concentration requires five additional courses in Astronomy (17-18 credits total), plus an additional 15 credits in a complementary area of study (four to five courses) as explicated below.

**F****ive Semesters of
Astronomy **including ASTRO 2211 and ASTRO 2212, two of the three courses in the
ASTRO 3301, 3302, 3303 sequence, and one additional astronomy course selected from below:

** ASTRO 2211 (4) **Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology

** ASTRO 2212 (4) **The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds

Two of the following three courses:

** ASTRO 3301 (3) **Exoplanets and Planetary Systems

** ASTRO 3302 (3) **The Life of
Stars: From Birth to Death

** ASTRO 3303 (3) **Galaxies Across Cosmic
Time

**One additional astronomy course selected from below: **

** ASTRO 2290 (4) **Relativity and Astrophysics

** ASTRO 2299 (4) **Search for Life in the Universe

** ASTRO 4445 (4) **Introduction to General
Relativity

**Other Astronomy courses with prior approval of the DUS.**

** **

**F****ifteen Credit Hours in a Complementary Area. ***C**o**mplementary Areas *can be selected from a wide
variety of disciplines,
but the courses selected must be cohesive, and complement the core requirements. For example, those interested in astrobiology might choose a Complementary Area of biological sciences, those interested in planetary science might choose Earth and Atmospheric Science, those interested in teaching at the high-school level
might pick
education, and those interested in public
policy might choose Government, Economics, or Science and Technology Studies. It is up to the student, in
consultation with their faculty advisor to design the Complementary Area. At least eight of the
Complementary Area credits must be in courses numbered above 3000. Complementary Areas are normally mapped out by the end of
their sophomore year.

**Course/Credit Count. **The requirements for the Astronomy Major with a General Astronomy
Concentration are therefore ** 16-17 courses **(12 of which are in Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics)

**(44-46 of which are in Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics).**

*totaling 59-61 credit hours*

### Double Majors

It is expected that some majors, especially those with General Astronomy Concentrations will have double majors, either totally distinct from Astronomy, or ones that include courses from their Complementary Area. In these cases, their Complementary Area credits can be counted for both majors as allowed by the second major. For example, students may double major in Astronomy and Mathematics with the Astronomy Core MATH courses counted towards both majors. However, it is not allowed to double major in Astronomy with an Astrophysics Concentration, and Physics due to extensive overlap of requirements.

**Information for Astronomy Minors**

Non-Astronomy majors from all Cornell colleges are eligible to earn an Astronomy Minor. The Astronomy Minor is designed to demonstrate a level of interest and competence in astronomy and data science that is appropriate for pursuit of a wide variety of careers. To apply for an Astronomy Minor make an appointment to visit the Director of Undergraduate studies (astronomydus@astro.cornell.edu).

The Astronomy Minor requires completion of a total of 13 credit hours in Astronomy at or above the 2000 level. At least 6 of these credits must be at or above the 3000 level, and at least 6 of the 13 credits must have a letter grade. Independent study (ASTRO 4490) can qualify for the minor with approval by the Astronomy DUS.

Grades of B- or
better in 2000 level courses, and C- or better in courses at the 3000 level are
required. All 3000 level courses or
above count towards the requirements. The 2000 level courses that count towards
the requirements** include**:

**ASTRO 2211: **Stars, Galaxies, and
Cosmology

**ASTRO 2212: ** The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds

**ASTRO 2290:** Relativity and Astrophysics

**ASTRO 2299:** Search for Life in the
Universe