List of All U.S. Colleges with an Astronomy Major

The night sky is full of wonders: constellations of stars, the planets, the moon…and, if you’re lucky, the occasional meteor shower. 

 

Astronomy, perhaps the oldest science of all time, is the study of all this and more — that is, the wonders of the night sky and the entire universe. Leveraging a knowledge of math and science and cutting-edge equipment and technology, astronomers learn about the amazing facets of galaxies. 

 

Are you interested in studying astronomy in college? Find out all about the major and top schools that offer an astronomy program.

 

Overview of the Astronomy Major

 

An astronomy curriculum is grounded in physics; it is far from an easy major, contrary to popular belief (we actually rated it as one of the hardest science majors). Other coursework includes math and natural sciences. You’ll often find astrophysics, a related discipline, in a combined department with astronomy. You’ll learn about the solar system, theories behind space and the components within it, and different possibilities in space. You’ll also conduct experiments and participate in lab work.

 

There are many career possibilities for graduates of astronomy programs. Some go on to earn a PhD in the field and become astronomers, predominantly a research and teaching position. Given how few astronomy positions are available, it’s a competitive track, not to mention a time-intensive one.

 

Some astronomy majors end up working in planetariums, government laboratories or facilities like NASA, and observatories. Others go on to become engineers, science teachers, software developers, physicians, meteorologists, or science journalists. Depending on which career you choose, you’ll probably need an advanced degree in astronomy or another field.

 

If you’re interested in astronomy, you should be a curious person who loves to learn and discover new things. You should also be equipped with knowledge of many disciplines, like engineering and biology. But you must also be willing to put in long hours — it’s a competitive field that isn’t as lucrative as some other science-heavy professions.

 

What to Look for in a College as an Astronomy Major

 

A Quality Observatory

 

When you’re studying the night sky as your major, you need a quality observatory and other equipment to conduct research. Colleges boasting some of the best observatories and telescopes include the University of Hawaii, the University of Arizona, Caltech, and the University of Chicago, among many others. Some are even open to the public and host events for students, faculty, and the surrounding community.

 

Research Opportunities

 

Astronomy is a predominantly research-based field. When you’re looking into schools that have an astronomy program, determine whether there are opportunities for undergraduate students to work with esteemed astronomers who are on the faculty. This is especially important if you plan on going to graduate school, as many do, because it will prepare you to conduct your own research.

 

Experiential Learning Opportunities

 

Fieldwork is another important part of the astronomy curriculum. This allows students to experience their subject firsthand. At Harvard, for example, astronomy undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in faculty-led field trips, which have previously included an observation of the Great American Solar Eclipse, and a trip to Hawaii to conduct a telescope observation on the summit of Mauna Kea.

 

Other factors to consider include whether the school has an undergraduate astronomy organization or club. You should also take a look at the specialties and subspecialties in the department, especially if you’re hoping to tackle a specific one.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

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List of All U.S. Colleges With an Astronomy Major

 

School

City

State

Amherst College

Amherst

Massachusetts

Ball State University | BSU

Muncie

Indiana

Barnard College

New York

New York

Baylor University

Waco

Texas

Bennington College

Bennington

Vermont

Boston University | BU

Boston

Massachusetts

Brigham Young University | BYU

Provo

Utah

Brown University

Providence

Rhode Island

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr

Pennsylvania

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland

Ohio

Central Michigan University | CMU

Mount Pleasant

Michigan

Columbia University

New York

New York

Cornell University

Ithaca

New York

Dartmouth College

Hanover

New Hampshire

George Mason University

Fairfax

Virginia

Haverford College

Haverford

Pennsylvania

Indiana University Bloomington | Indiana

Bloomington

Indiana

Lehigh University

Bethlehem

Pennsylvania

Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley

Massachusetts

Northern Arizona University | NAU

Flagstaff

Arizona

Ohio State University | OSU

Columbus

Ohio

Ohio Wesleyan University

Delaware

Ohio

Pennsylvania State University | PSU

University Park

Pennsylvania

Rice University

Houston

Texas

San Diego State University | SDSU

San Diego

California

Smith College

Northampton

Massachusetts

Stonehill College

Easton

Massachusetts

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore

Pennsylvania

The State University of New York at Stony Brook | SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook

New York

Union College (New York)

Schenectady

New York

University of Arizona

Tucson

Arizona

University of Colorado Boulder | CU Boulder

Boulder

Colorado

University of Florida

Gainesville

Florida

University of Georgia

Athens

Georgia

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | UIUC

Champaign

Illinois

University of Iowa

Iowa City

Iowa

University of Kansas

Lawrence

Kansas

University of Maryland, College Park | Maryland

College Park

Maryland

University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst

Amherst

Massachusetts

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor

Michigan

University of Oklahoma

Norman

Oklahoma

University of Pittsburgh | Pitt

Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania

University of Southern California | USC

Los Angeles

California

University of Texas at Austin | UT Austin

Austin

Texas

University of Toledo

Toledo

Ohio

University of Virginia | UVA

Charlottesville

Virginia

University of Washington

Seattle

Washington

Valdosta State University | VSU

Valdosta

Georgia

Valparaiso University | Valpo

Valparaiso

Indiana

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie

New York

Villanova University

Villanova

Pennsylvania

Wayne State University | WSU

Detroit

Michigan

Wellesley College

Wellesley

Massachusetts

Wesleyan University

Middletown

Connecticut

Wheaton College (Massachusetts)

Norton

Massachusetts

Whitman College

Walla Walla

Washington

Williams College

Williamstown

Massachusetts

Yale University

New Haven

Connecticut

Youngstown State University

Youngstown

Ohio

 

Notice a school that’s missing? Email us and let us know!

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

Astronomy is an extremely rigorous major. When you’re applying to programs, first ensure that your academics (GPA and test scores) or comparable to those of previously accepted students. This is because most selective schools use the Academic Index to filter out applicants.

 

You should also demonstrate your fit with the school and astronomy program via the qualitative components of your applications, including your extracurricular activities and essays. You’ll want to participate in plenty of science-related activities to show your interest in the field. Aspiring astronomy majors should take AP Physics and AP Calculus BC, if possible. Extracurriculars like Astronomy Club, volunteering at the local science center, and Science Olympiad are also good choices.

 

And, if you’re curious about your chances of admissions, try out our free Chancing Engine. It takes into account both academic statistics and qualitative factors to estimate your real odds of admission to more than 500 colleges and universities across the country.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.