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Undergraduate ASTRONOMY Program

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers undergraduate courses in astronomy leading to both a major and, starting in Fall 2002, a minor as well as a variety of courses for the non-scientist. The major in astronomy leading to a Bachelor of Science degree aims at giving the student maximum preparation to pursue graduate and professional work. The minor in astronomy provides a rigorous introduction to the discipline without requiring the breadth, and the corresponding investment of course work, as the major. A major leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Earth & Space Sciences, offered through the Geosciences Department is designed to meet the needs of students who desire a more diverse liberal arts and sciences background. It prepares the student to pursue careers in teaching, law, environmental science, or research.

Requirements for the astronomy major and the minor follow. Upon declaring a major, the student will be assigned a faculty advisor, who will assist in the selection of a course sequence leading to the desired degree. Advanced students have the opportunity to take courses with relatively small enrollments and to participate in research programs during the academic year and summer.

Note: requirements may change—consult the Stony Brook Undergraduate Bulletin for the official major and minor requirements.

For An Astronomy Major


Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year
First Year Seminar 101 First Year Seminar 102
WRT 101-A Intro Writing Workshop WRT 102-A Intermed Writing Workshop A
MAT 131-C Calculus I MAT 132 Calculus II
PHY 131-E/133 Classical Physics I1 PHY 132-E/134 Classical Physics II
DEC elective DEC elective
Sophomore Year
AST 205 Intro to Planetary Science2 (or elective) AST 200 Astronomy Research at Stony Brook
MAT205 Calculus III w/ Applications AST 203 Astronomy
PHY 251/252 Modern Physics MAT 305 Calculus IV w/ Applications
PHY 277 Computation in Phys/Astro PHY 300 Waves and Optics
DEC elective DEC elective
Junior Year
AST 205 Intro to Planetary Science2 (or elective) AST 346 Galaxies2
AST 341 Stars and Radiation2 PHY 302 Electromagnetic Theory II
PHY 301 Electromagnetic Theory I PHY 306 Thermo, Kinetic Theory, Stat Mech
DEC elective DEC elective
DEC elective elective
Senior Year
AST 443 Observational Techniques for Optical Astronomy2 AST 347 Cosmology2
PHY 303 Mechanics PHY 308 Quantum Mechanics
DEC elective PHY 310 Prob & Stat Exp Physics
DEC elective DEC elective
elective elective

1Alternatively, the 125, 126, 127 sequences may be used.

2AST 205 and all upper division AST courses are offered alternate years.


Requirements for the Major

All courses taken to meet requirements for the astronomy major must be taken for a letter grade. No more than three courses with a grade of C- may be presented for the major. Otherwise grades of at least C must be achieved. A minimum of 60 credits in Astronomy, Mathematics, and Physics are required.

A. Required Astronomy Courses:

AST 203, AST 341, AST 346, AST 347, and at least six credits from additional AST courses numbered 200 or higher (except AST 248, 301, 304, 389, and 475). Up to three credits of AST 287, 447, and 487 may be used toward this requirement.

B. Required Physics Courses:

PHY 131/133, 132/1341, PHY 251/252, PHY 277, PHY 300, PHY 306.
At least 8 credits from other approved physics-related courses. A list of acceptable courses is maintained by the Physics Undergraduate Coordinator, and is posted in the Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Office.

C. Mathematics Requirements:

MAT131, 1322, MAT203 or 205 or AMS261, MAT303 or 305 or AMS361.

D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement:

All students majoring in astronomy must submit two papers (term papers, Laboratory reports, or independent research papers) to the Astronomy Undergraduate Coordinator for department evaluation by the end of the junior year. If this evaluation is satisfactory, the student will have fulfilled the upper-division writing requirement. If it is not, the student must fulfill the requirement before graduation.


1 PHY 125, 126, 127 or PHY 141, 142 are alternative sequences.
2 MAT 125, 126, 127 or MAT 141, 142 are alternative sequences,


Honors Program in Astronomy

Students in the astronomy major who have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 through the junior year in courses required for the major may become candidates for departmental honors in astronomy by applying to the department. Candidates for honors must include a sequence of mathematics, natural science or engineering courses approved by the student's advisor following petition by the student.

In addition to the academic program, the student must complete an honors thesis while enrolled in AST 447 or 487. The thesis is evaluated by a committee composed of the student's advisor and two other science faculty members including one from outside of the department. If the honors program is completed with distinction and the student has maintained a minimum 3.3 grade point average in all course work in natural science, mathematics and engineering, honors are conferred.


Requirements for the Minor

All courses taken to meet requirements for the astronomy minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the minor requires 23 to 24 credits.

A. Required Astronomy Courses:

AST 203 and AST 205, and any three upper division AST courses (300 level or higher). No more than one of these may come from AST 301, 304, or 389.

B. Required Physics Courses:

PHY 125, 131/133, or 141

C. Mathematics Requirements:

MAT 125, 131, 141, 171, or AMS 151




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Department of Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800
Phone: (631) 632 8100
Fax: (631) 632 8176
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