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Astronomy and Astrophysics Track

NOTE THAT THE INFORMATION BELOW APPLIES TO STUDENTS WHO ENTERED VANDERBILT PRIOR TO THE FALL 2017 SEMESTER AND WHO ARE COMPLETING THE MAJOR UNDER THE OLD SET OF REQUIREMENTS.

NOTE ALSO THAT THIS TRACK IS MERELY GUIDANCE FOR STUDENTS WITH A POST-GRADUATION GOAL OF CONTINUING THEIR STUDIES IN ASTRONOMY OR ASTROPHYSICS.  IT IS NOT A SEPARATE MAJOR.

STUDENTS WITH QUESTIONS SHOULD CONSULT WITH THE DIRECTOR OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES.

This track prepares students to undertake graduate work in astronomy, astrophysics, or related earth and planetary sciences. It is not necessary to complete the minor in Astronomy as preparation for graduate work in astronomy or astrophysics, though many students will choose that option. Note that this 'track' is simply for advising purposes for help in choosing electives. All physics majors complete the same requirements for the major.

Recommendations for Electives and additional Coursework


Nine credit hours of electives in Physics and/or Astronomy, with a cap of 6 of these 9 credit hours that can be earned from any combination of Directed Study (Phys 3840 or Astr 3840), Independent Study (Phys 3860 or Astr 3860), and/or Honors research (Phys 4998 or Astr 4998) [9 hours], for example:

  • ASTR 2110 [3]
  • PHYS 2271: Classical mechanics II [3]
  • PHYS 2291: Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics II [3]
  • PHYS 3651-3652: Advanced quantum physics I and II [3]
  • PHYS 2237: computational physics
  • Any of ASTR 3700, 3800, 3900
  • ASTR research (3840, 3860, 4998)

Sample Astronomy and Astrophysics program

(allowing for honors research in astronomy; students who choose to study abroad, typically in the third year, can either move some of Physics 223, 227A and 229A to the second year or find equivalent courses in their study-abroad program) 

  Fall Semester Spring Semester
First Year Physics 1901
Math 1300
First year writing seminar
Foreign language 1
Physics 1902
Math 1301
History and Culture 1(W)
Foreign Language 2
CS 1010
Astronomy 2110
Second Year Physics 2250W
Math 2300
Humanities 1 
History and Culture 2
research (Astronomy 3840)
Physics 2260W
Astronomy 252 or 253
Math 2410
Humanities 2
Social Science 1
research (Astronomy 3860
Third Year Physics 2270
Physics 3207
Physics or Astronomy 250a
Math 2420
Social Science 2
History and Culture 3
research (Astronomy 3860)
Physics 2271
Physics 2290
Physics 2237
Astronomy 2600
Astronomy 3800
Social Science 2
research (Astronomy 3860)
Fourth Year Physics 3600
Physics 3651
Physics 2291
honors research (Astronomy 4998)
History and Culture 4
Physics 3652
Astronomy 3900
honors research (Astronomy 4998)
Humanities 3