The program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in astronomy is designed to prepare students to enter graduate programs in astronomy, physics, or related disciplines, or to embark upon careers in research laboratories and observatories, government, industry, or education. Specific educational outcomes include the following:

Selected Educational Outcomes

  1. students will demonstrate knowledge in the fundamental branches of astronomy, including solar system astronomy, astrophysics, and observational astronomy;
  2. students will demonstrate knowledge in the fundamental supporting branches of physics, including mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics;
  3. students will participate in and conduct research;
  4. students will apply the techniques of mathematical analysis to physical problems, thereby enhancing their problem-solving skills.

Examples of Outcome Assessments

Assessment of the educational outcomes for the astronomy major is primarily the responsibility of the departmental Astronomy Area Committee, comprised of faculty with expertise in astronomy and cognate disciplines. This assessment is conducted through evaluation of the major educational outcomes in relation to astronomy programs at comparable institutions (particularly the member institutions of SARA). The Committee assesses the extent to which the program requirements create the desired outcomes by using a variety of techniques. Examples of these assessments include the following:

  1. All student majors must make oral presentations of their research results to the departmental faculty and submit written copies of their research papers to the departmental office as part of the required Capstone Seminar (PHYS 4501).
  2. Students must submit a departmental copy of their portfolios of undergraduate coursework, research projects, and professional activity at the end of their last semester of residence.
  3. At the time of major coursework completion, students must complete an exit questionnaire to determine the students’ perception of achievement of the major’s educational outcomes.
  4. Periodic surveys of alumni who have completed the astronomy program will be conducted. These surveys will evaluate the relevancy of the major program to graduates’ present employment, their perception of success, and their personal satisfaction with the program. The surveys will also solicit suggestions for improvement of the astronomy major program.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree with a Major in Astronomy

Core Curriculum 60
Core Curriculum Areas A-E (See VSU Core Curriculum)42
Astronomy majors are required to take Pre-calculus (MATH 1113) in Area A and Calculus I (MATH 2261) in Area D and are advised to take 3 hours of a foreign language in Area C, and PHYS 2211K and PHYS 2212K in Area D2
Core Curriculum Area F
Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (1 hour left over from Area D)
Analytic Geometry and Calculus II
and Analytic Geometry and Calculus III
Astronomy of the Solar System
and Stellar and Galactic Astronomy
Tools of Astronomy
Senior College Curriculum60
Upper-Level Courses in Astronomy
ASTR 4101Observational Techniques I4
ASTR 4400
ASTR 4410
Physics of the Solar System
and Astrophysics
Upper-Level Supporting Courses in Physics and Mathematics
PHYS 2700Modern Physics1
MATH 2150Introduction to Linear Algebra3
MATH 3340Ordinary Differential Equations3
or PHYS 3800 Differential Equations in Physical Systems
PHYS 3810Mathematical Methods of Physics3
PHYS 4111
PHYS 4112
Theoretical Mechanics I
and Theoretical Mechanics II
PHYS 4211
PHYS 4212
Electromagnetism I
and Electromagnetism II
PHYS 4411
PHYS 4412
Quantum Mechanics I
and Quantum Mechanics II
Select one of the following:4
Computational Physics I
Experimental Physics
Other Supporting Courses
Language Requirement (3 hours may be taken in Area C)3-6
Guided Electives--Select from the following:12-15
Planetary Geology
Special Topics in Astronomy
Set Theory
Probability and Statistics
Modern Algebra I
Modern Algebra II
Linear Algebra
Functions of a Complex Variable
Computational Physics I
Computational Physics II
Experimental Physics
Plasma Physics
Total hours required for the degree120