Bachelor of Science in
Astronomy is unlike most sciences. We can’t bring celestial objects such as planets, stars, and galaxies into a laboratory. Instead, we use a clever combination of astronomical observations, physics principles, computer analysis and the human mind to understand how these distant objects work.
At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, students in the Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program use a combination of physics and astronomy classroom courses, along with hands-on laboratory courses, to understand and explore the Universe. Graduates are prepared to enter a variety of industrial and basic science applications, as well as graduate programs in related fields.
As one of only a few small, private institutions with an Astronomy program, Embry-Riddle offers plenty of advantages, including faculty ties to major resources, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, and major research programs sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Students also frequently work one-on-one with faculty on research projects and activities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 14% increase in physics and astronomy jobs between 2016 and 2026. In 2019, the median annual wage for astronomers and astrophysicists was $120,000. We are proud to report that 94% of Embry-Riddle graduates are employed in their field or are continuing their education within a year of graduation, according to our most recent Alumni Survey.
About Astronomy at the Prescott, AZ Campus
Through hands-on experiences with the instruments that unlock the secrets of the skies, students in the Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program at the Prescott Campus can make precise observations of a variety of celestial objects. Prescott’s campus houses the Optical Observatory, newly upgraded with a computer-controlled 16-inch diameter telescope and professional-quality electronic camera.
Students attend classes in dynamic, engineering-related labs and facilities, such as the Campus Observatory Complex, Cosmic Ray Laboratory, and Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
Prescott’s campus has one of only a handful of Astronomy degree programs in the Western United States and its high altitude location away from large cities allows students to take advantage of equipment access on campus to view the nearest heavens, while peering up at the farthest reaches through access to the Hubble Space Telescope and research programs at NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Diverse co-operative education (co-op)/internship opportunities are available for students interested in expanding their experiences. Students can also participate in study abroad opportunities.
The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a program designed to prepare students for work in space-related and aerospace-related industries, academic and government research laboratories, graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics, and other careers such as science education. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects such as planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as the Universe as a whole. Astronomers apply the fundamental laws of physics to celestial objects to understand the appearance and behavior of those objects. Students will explore objects ranging from the nearby (e.g., the Solar System) to the farthest reaches of the Universe and its origin (e.g., cosmology and the Big Bang).
In addition to classroom learning, students will gain hands-on experience with astronomical equipment, such as telescopes and sophisticated electronic cameras, using the Campus Observatory Complex. Students will learn how to plan, execute, and analyze astronomical observations. In their senior year, students satisfying course and GPA requirements have the option of completing a senior research thesis project in an area of interest that overlaps with the research interests of a supervising faculty member. Opportunities also exist before the senior year for student-faculty research projects. Whether contributing to the fundamental knowledge of astronomical objects, furthering space exploration, or engaging in one of an additional variety of available careers, graduates of this program will be prepared to become leaders in space-related fields.
To enter this program, students must have completed four years of high school science and mathematics, demonstrating a high level of competency. Successful candidates for this program will be prepared to enter Calculus I, Physics I, and General Chemistry and must have a good command of written English.
The Bachelor of Science in Astronomy is a 120 credit hour program that can be completed in eight semesters. The list of courses below comprises the complete requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Astronomy. The list is organized as a “vertical outline” according to the year and semester in which the courses would normally be taken. While it is not a requirement that the courses be taken during the year shown, students should be aware that several courses in each academic year may have prerequisites and/or corequisites. Therefore, it is recommended that students keep their schedule as close as possible to the one shown below. Before registering for a course, check the course descriptions to ensure that all prerequisites and/or corequisites are met. Note that prerequisites for a course are only considered met if the student obtained a grade of “C” or better in the prerequisite courses.
Students may not pursue both an Astronomy B.S. degree and a Space Physics B.S. degree. However, also note that the degree requirements for the first three semesters of both degree programs can be satisfied with the same courses. Thus, a student who is making appropriate progress in either the Astronomy or Space Physics degree programs can switch to the other program after the third semester with a complete transfer of credit from one program to the other.
Suggested Program of Study
|Communication Elective *||3|
|CHM 110 |
|General Chemistry I||4|
|MA 241||Calculus and Analytical Geometry I||4|
|CS 118||Fundamentals of Computer Programming||3|
or EGR 115
|Introduction to Computing for Engineers|
|MA 242||Calculus and Analytical Geometry II||4|
|PS 204||General Astronomy||3|
|PS 215||Physics I||3|
|PS 216||Physics I Laboratory||1|
|PS 208||Physics II||3|
|PS 221||Intermediate Physics Laboratory||2|
|UNIV 101||College Success||1|
|Humanities Lower-Level Elective||3|
|MA 243||Calculus and Analytical Geometry III||4|
|MA 335||Introduction to Linear and Abstract Algebra||3|
|MA 345||Differential Equations and Matrix Methods||4|
|PS 219||Physics III||3|
|PS 222||Intermediate Astronomy||3|
|PS 271||Techniques of Observational Astronomy||3|
|PS 303||Modern Physics||3|
|PS 315||Modern Physics Laboratory||2|
|Social Science Lower-Level Elective||3|
|MA 441||Mathematical Methods for Engineering and Physics I||3|
|PS 330||Electricity and Magnetism I||3|
|PS 340||Astrophysics I||3|
|PS 408||Astrophysics II||3|
|Humanities Upper-Level Elective||3|
|Social Science Upper-Level Elective||3|
|PS 321||Classical Mechanics I||3|
|PS 350||Quantum Mechanics I||3|
|PS 380||Optics Laboratory||3|
|PS 490||Senior Research Thesis, Part I||3|
|PS 491||Senior Research Thesis, Part II||3|
Embry-Riddle courses in the general education categories of Communication, Humanities, and Social Sciences may be chose from the list below, assuming prerequisites are met. Courses from other institutions are acceptable it they fall into these broad categories and are at the approximate level.
|COM 122||English Composition||3|
|COM 221||Technical Report Writing||3|
|COM 222||Business Communication||3|
|or any COM 3XX or COM 4XX course||3|
|Social Science Lower-Level Electives|
|Any Lower-Level SS, RS, or SIS course||3|
|Humanities Lower-Level Electives|
|Any Humanities Lower-Level Course||3|
|Upper-Level Humanities Electives|
|Any HU Upper-Level Course|
|Social Science Upper-Level Electives|
|Any SS Upper-Level Course|
|PS 299||Special Topics in Physical Science||1-4|
|or PS 399||Special Topic in Physical Science|
|or PS 499||Special Topic in Physical Science|
|PS 322||Classical Mechanics II||3|
|PS 331||Electricity and Magnetism II||3|
|PS 405||Atomic Nuclear Physics||3|
|PS 412||Particle Physics and Cosmology||3|
|PS 413||Particle Physics and Cosmology II||3|
|PS 420||Remote Sensing||3|
|PS 422||Space Propulsion||3|
|PS 451||Quantum Mechanics II||3|
|MA 299||Special Topics in Mathematics||1-4|
|or MA 399||Special Topics in Mathematics|
|or MA 499||Special Topics in Mathematics|
|MA 412||Probability and Statistics||3|
|MA 443||Complex Variables||3|
|Any other upper-division technical course with approval of the Astronomy Department|
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