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University of Pittsburgh    
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Sep 28, 2022
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog

Astronomy, BA

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The University of Pittsburgh’s internationally recognized Department of Physics and Astronomy has been an important leader at the frontier of science and, with 500 PhD alumni, has launched many distinguished careers. Now, at the onset of the 21st Century, the department is maintaining its traditions of excellence and innovation while leading the field in breakthroughs that promise an ever-deeper understanding of the universe. From sub-nuclear particles to the unimaginably large, from the birth of the universe to the edge of technology - and at the intersection of quantum and classical physics - our faculty and students explore the fundamental laws of nature. Students may expect to pursue research that influences many fields, including biology, mathematics, medicine, chemistry, engineering, and computer science.

The BA in astronomy requires the completion of 39 credits in physics and astronomy and six credits in communication and history and philosophy of science, distributed as follows.

Introductory Astronomy course

The following course is required.

Intermediate and Advanced Astronomy courses

Select at least two courses from the following list, for a total of at least six credits.

Science electives

Select at least two of the following courses, for a total of at least six credits.

  • Some courses on this list have pre-requisites. Be sure to check the course enrollment requirements.
  • If GEOL 1701 - GEOLOGY OF THE PLANETS  is used to meet the Science Elective requirement, it cannot also be used to meet the Intermediate and Advanced Astronomy requirement.

History and Philosophy of Science or science policy and management courses

Select at least one of the following courses, for a total of at least three credits.

Science Communication concentration

This concentration replaces the three-credit writing or communication course with a three-credit writing course and 12 credits of communication courses. Students pursuing this concentration may replace the six credits of science electives with the communication course requirements.

Science Breadth concentration

This concentration provides broader exposure to other sciences in comparison to the standard Astronomy BA, while going into greater depth in physics and astronomy than a more generic Natural Sciences major. With proper selection of courses, this concentration provides the necessary requirements to apply for admission to medical school while roughly matching the credit requirements of the Astronomy BA.

Reduced Physics requirement

The following course is the required Physics course for this concentration in the major. It may also be used to fulfill a requirement in the Physics minor.

Reduced writing requirement

The three-credit writing or communication requirement is waived for students pursuing this concentration.

Added science electives

Select one of the three following groups, for a total of at least six credits.

Additional information

Grade requirements

A minimum GPA of 2.0 in departmental courses is required for graduation.

Satisfactory/No Credit option

No PHYS or ASTRON courses beyond the introductory level may be taken on an S/NC basis.

Writing (W) requirement

Students must complete at least one writing-intensive (W) course in the major.

Honors major requirements

Honors in astronomy is granted if in addition to fulfilling all requirements for the major, the student maintains a GPA of 3.2 or higher in the major, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, completes ASTRON 1903 or PHYS 1903 Directed Research, submits a paper detailing the research within the department, and presents the research in a public forum (i.e. at the University’s Science Symposium, the undergraduate poster fair hosted by the David C. Frederick Honors College).

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