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