This program is designed for students who wish to build considerable knowledge in astronomy but do not plan a research-oriented career in the field. It is appropriate for students planning careers in secondary school science teaching or science-related administration.

Why Iowa?

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers challenging courses on a variety of subjects. You'll begin with courses that teach problem-solving skills, logical thinking, and technical skills. Advanced classes usually have 15-20 students, allowing maximum individual attention. As you progress through the major, you'll have opportunities to conduct research or participate in one of the many internships available at national laboratories and other facilities.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

 Information

Major(s)
Astronomy
BA
Astronomy
BS
Minor(s)
Astronomy
  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Astronomy graduates have mastered skills that are readily transferable to a number of fields. You might choose to work in research, engineering, software development, teaching, finance, biomedical research, or consulting. 

About 70 percent of Iowa's physics and astronomy graduates go on to graduate school and are accepted to some of the best programs in the country.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Most undergraduate students in the Physics and Astronomy department participate in research projects. Some work directly with faculty members on projects ranging from the development of ultrafast optical measurement techniques to the use of satellite data in studying interplanetary media. View recent undergraduate research projects.

Iowa students are extraordinarily successful at competing for summer research opportunities at other top universities and at facilities such as research laboratories and national observatories. Students may earn course credit for research. Some funding is available for undergraduate research through individually funded faculty projects, the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates, and the department's Van Allen Research Grants.

The Astrophysics Group studies a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, from solar system plasma to x-ray emission from black hole accretion discs

  Scholarships

The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Course Work

Astronomy majors may earn a BA or a BS degree. 

The BA degree requires fewer physics and mathematics courses than the BS program, allowing flexibility to combine the astronomy major with other areas of interest. BA students take calculus in addition to physics and astronomy courses with laboratories. The BA program provides a foundation for graduate or professional study; for careers in fields such as business, administration, and technical writing; and for secondary school teaching. 

The BS program provides balanced and integrated course work in astronomy, mathematics, and physics that prepares students for graduate studies in astronomy, astrophysics, or related science disciplines, and for research-related careers.

All students must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core as well as the following courses:

  • Calculus I–II
  • Physics I–II–III–IV
  • General Astronomy I–II
  • Intermediate Mechanics
  • Introduction to Astrophysics I–II
  • Astronomical Laboratory
  • Additional physics and astronomy courses 

With a few additional physics courses, a double major with physics is also possible.

See Astronomy in the General Catalog to learn about earning a major or minor in Astronomy, course requirements, and graduating with honors. 

Teaching Licensure

The BA degree program is more suitable than the BS program if you are interested in teaching science at the secondary school level. Review the College of Education's Teacher Education Program website for more information. Iowa also offers a BS in Science Education.