College of Arts and Sciences


The information on this page pertains to program requirements for students who matriculated in the 2021-2022 academic year.  View requirements for previous catalog years here.

Program Options

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a major in Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy department web site

Program Overview

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a major directed toward a career in astronomy.  Most professional positions in astronomy and astrophysics generally require study leading to the Ph.D. degree.  Opportunities include research positions in observatories, often in conjunction with university teaching, and scientific positions in government agencies and industry.

B.S. Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Science degree requires a minimum of 49 credit hours in astronomy and physics courses in a program to be developed by the student and the adviser and approved by the department.  The upper-division program concentrates on astrophysics with courses in such areas as mechanics, electromagnetic theory, space and astrophysics.

Course Credits
ASTR 001 - Astronomy 1 3
ASTR 01L - Astronomy 1 lab 1
ASTR 041 - Astronomical Techniques 3
ASTR 185 - Astrophysics I 3
ASTR 195 - Astrophysics II 3
PHY 001 (with lab and discussion) - Intro to Physics 1 4
PHY 002 (with lab and discussion) - Intro to Physics 2 4
PHY 003 - Contemporary Topics in Physics and Astronomy Seminar 1
PHY 050 (with recommended discussion) - Modern Physics 4
PHY 059 - Advanced Lab I 2
PHY 061 - Error Theory 1
PHY 121 - Theoretical Mechanics 4
PHY 122 - Electromagnetic Theory 4
PHY 133 (with lab) - Electronics 4
PHY 149 - Advanced Lab II 2
PHY 181 - Quantum Theory 4
PHY 191 - Seminar I 1
PHY 192 - Seminar II 1
Electives - Select at least one from: 2
ASTR 071 - Problems in Positional Astronomy 2
ASTR 180 - Directed Independent Study in Astronomy 1-3
PHY 189/190 - Special Topics 3-4
PHY 132 - Medical Biophysics 3
PHY 025 - Special Topics 1-3
PHY 060 - Biophysics 3
PHY 159 - Advanced Lab III 2
PHY 180 - Atomic and Molecular Physics 4
PHY 182 - Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics 4
PHY 183 - Nuclear and Particle Physics 4
PHY 186 - Plasma Physics 3
PHY 187 - Solid State Physics 3
PHY 188 - Advanced Classical Physics 4
PHY 197/198 - Research I/II (Senior Capstone) 4

*Research Participation (Capstone):  4 cr (min) of PHY 197 and/or PHY 198 at Drake and/or at least one REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  A paper and an oral presentation are required.

Requirements for the program also include General Chemistry I, with laboratory and related courses in mathematics and computer science appropriate to the options chosen by the student.

Depending on the student’s career goals, the academic advisor may recommend courses chosen from electives.

Grade Requirements for Graduation

2.0 minimum (C) average is required in all physics-credit courses.  In addition, a C is required for Modern Physics, Advanced Lab I, Theoretical Mechanics, Electromagnetic Theory and Astronomical Techniques.

NOTE: A special B.A. in Astronomy is not needed as the analytical skills are already developed with a B.A. in Physics with an elective in Astronomy.

The information in this catalog does not constitute a contract between the university and the student. The university reserves the right to make changes in curricula, admission policies and processes, tuition and financial aid, academic standards and guidelines, student services and any other regulations or policies set forth in this catalog without giving prior notice.