Physics & Astronomy Program: Sample Schedules

The following sample schedules indicate the approximate order of courses to complete a degree in Astronomy for a student beginning the major in his or her first year. As many Union students elect to spend a term abroad, we present two versions of the schedule, one for a student taking a term abroad in the Fall of senior year, and the other for a student who is on campus for all four years. Note that there is a term abroad program with the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile for advanced majors. We also present a third schedule, for a Physics major with an Astrophysics minor, which is the recommended course for students interested in graduate study in astronomy or astrophysics.

Color code:

  • Classes that Count for the Major
  • Classes Recommended for Students Interested in Graduate Study
  • General Education Classes
  • Term Abroad Classes
  • Free Electives

Sample Schedule With Term Abroad

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Physics 100: First-Year Seminar
  • Math 113: AP Calculus
  • Astronomy 51: Introduction to Astronomy
  • Biology/Astronomy 58: Astrobiology
  • Free Elective
  • First-Year Preceptorial
  • Physics 110: Classical and Modern Physics for Life Sciences I
  • General Education Class
  • General Education Class
Second Year:
  • Geology 110: Physical Geology
  • Physics 111: Classical and Modern Physics for Life Sciences II 
  • General Education Class
  • Geology 120: The Earth and Life Through Time
  • Sophomore Seminar
  • General Education Class
  • Astronomy 50 or 105: The Solar System
  • Math Elective
  • General Education Class
Third Year:
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy
  • Free Elective
  • General Education Class
  • Astronomy 290
  • Astronomy 52: Relativity, Black Holes, and Quasars
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • General Education Class
  • Astronomy 291
  • General Education Class
  • Science Elective
  • Astronomy 292
Fourth Year:
  • Term Abroad Class
  • Term Abroad Class
  • Term Abroad Class
  • Physics 491: Senior Thesis Research
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Notes: This schedule assumes the maximum number of general education courses, with no "double-counting" to meet requirements. Many courses will satisfy more than one general education requirement (for example, a single course might both fulfill part of the "Linguistic and Cultural Competency" requirement, and also form part of the required "Making Connections Across Disciplines" cluster).

More courses are listed than the major requires. Note that even under these conservative assumptions, it is possible to complete a strong Astronomy major with at least five free electives. These electives may easily be combined with general education courses or other electives to allow a student to complete a second major or a minor.

The first-year schedule assumes that students enter the Astronomy major with some Advanced Placement credit in math, placing them in Math 113. The Math department has several introductory tracks, depending on the level of preparation students have received in high school. Students who have not taken Advanced Placement tests may be required to take Math 110 and Math 112 instead of Math 113; students with exceptionally strong math backgrounds may skip Math 113, and start with Math 115. All of these variants are easily accommodated within the Astronomy curriculum.

One third-year class is listed as "Science Elective" although students fulfilling the major requirement with two geology courses are not required to take additional outside science. We encourage students to take outside science classes as early as possible, as they may lead students to pursue double majors or interdisciplinary majors.

A "Math Elective" is included in the schedule We strongly recommend that students who may be interested in graduate study in astronomy take math courses beyond those required for the major.

Sample Schedule Without Term Abroad

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Astronomy 51: Introduction to Astronomy
  • Math 110: Calculus I
  • First-Year Preceptorial
  • Physics 120: Matter in Motion
  • Math 112: Calculus II
  • General Education Class
  • Physics 121: Principles of Electromagnetics
  • Free Elective
  • General Education Class
Second Year:
  • Physics 123: Heat, Light and Astronomy
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy
  • Sophomore Seminar
  • Physics 122: Relativity, Quantum, and Applications
  • Free Elective
  • General Education Class
  • Astronomy 50 or 105: The Solar System
  • Math Elective
  • General Education Class
Third Year:
  • Astronomy 240: Radio Astronomy
  • Free Elective
  • General Education Class
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • General Education Class
  • General Education Class
  • Science Elective
  • General Education Class
  • General Education Class
Fourth Year:
  • Physics 490: Senior Thesis Research
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Physics 491: Senior Thesis Research
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Notes: This schedule assumes the maximum number of general education courses, with no "double-counting" to meet requirements. Many courses will satisfy more than one general education requirement (for example, a single course might both fulfill part of the "Linguistic and Cultural Competency" requirement, and also form part of the required "Making Connections Across Disciplines" cluster).

More courses are listed than the major requires. Note that even under these conservative assumptions, it is possible to complete a strong Astronomy major with at least five free electives. These electives may easily be combined with general education courses or other electives to allow a student to complete a second major or a minor.

This schedule assumes that students enter the Astronomy major with placement in Math 110. The Math department has several introductory tracks, depending on the level of preparation students have received in high school. Students with Advanced Placement tests may be placed in Math 113; students with exceptionally strong math backgrounds may skip Math 113, and start with Math 115. All of these variants are easily accommodated within the Astronomy curriculum.

 

Sample Schedule for Physics Major and Astrophysics Minor

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Physics 100: First-Year Seminar
  • Math 113: AP Calculus
  • First-Year Preceptorial
  • Physics 120: Matter in Motion
  • Math 115: Calculus III: Differential Vector Calculus and Matrix Theory
  • General Education Class
  • Physics 121: Principles of Electromagnetics
  • Math 117: Calculus IV: Integral Vector Calculus
  • Astronomy 105: Introduction to Planetary Sciences
Second Year:
  • Physics 123: Heat, Light and Astronomy
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy
  • Sophomore Seminar
  • Physics 122: Relativity, Quantum, and Applications
  • Science Elective
  • General Education Class
  • Physics 220: Intermediate Modern Physics
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • General Education Class
Third Year:
  • Physics 230: Intermediate Classical Mechanics
  • Astronomy 240: Radio Astronomy
  • General Education Class
  • Physics 270: Intermediate Electromagnetism
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • General Education Class
  • Physics 300: Methods of Modern Experimental Physics
  • Science Elective
  • General Education Class
Fourth Year:
  • Physics 490: Senior Thesis Research
  • Physics 310: Advanced Topics in Physics
  • Free Elective
  • Physics 491: Senior Thesis Research
  • General Education Class
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 220: Cosmology and General Relativity
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Notes: This schedule assumes the maximum number of general education courses, with no "double-counting" to meet requirements. Many courses will satisfy more than one general education requirement (for example, a single course might both fulfill part of the "Linguistic and Cultural Competency" requirement, and also form part of the required "Making Connections Across Disciplines" cluster).

Note that even under these conservative assumptions, it is possible to complete a strong Astronomy major with at least five free electives. These electives may easily be combined with general education courses or other electives to allow a student to complete a second major or a minor.

The first-year schedule assumes that students enter the Astronomy major with some Advanced Placement credit in math, placing them in Math 113. The Math department has several introductory tracks, depending on the level of preparation students have received in high school. Students who have not taken Advanced Placement tests may be required to take Math 110 and Math 112 instead of Math 113; students with exceptionally strong math backgrounds may skip Math 113, and start with Math 115. All of these variants are easily accommodated within the Astronomy curriculum.

Two classes are listed as "Science Electives." Physics majors are required to take two other science classes numbered 100 or above, at least one of which must be taken outside the department. We encourage students to take these classes as early as possible, as they may lead students to pursue double majors or interdisciplinary majors.

Two classes are listed as "Math Electives." We strongly recommend that students who may be interested in graduate study in physics or astronomy take math courses beyond those required for the major.