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Astrophysics Concentration

of the Physics Bachelor of Science2017 Solar Eclipse

Program Description

Astrophysics is the study of the stellar and galactic evolution and the origins of the universe.  It is an inherently multidisciplinary field that brings together physics knowledge in thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, optics, and electromagnetism with chemistry and other topics. The astrophysics concentration, rather than including 18 credit hours of electives as in the standard physics major, specifies 18 credit hours of ASTR coursework including Astrophysics I and II. Astrophysics graduates go on to graduate and professional school in fields such as physics, astronomy, engineering, computer science, medical physics, medicine, law, and finance. Astrophysics graduates can be found working in a variety of fields under titles such as physicist, engineer, analyst, and consultant.

The Astrophysics Concentration of the physics major will create students who:

  • Understand the fundamental areas of physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics).
  • Can apply the techniques of experimental physics, data reduction, error analysis, and computing.
  • Adapt readily to new and fluid situations.
  • Can communicate technical ideas.
  • Learn new things.
  • Function independently in a variety of fields
  • Are tenacious problem solvers.

After graduation, Physics graduates will use these skills to pursue advanced studies or to secure a professional position.

Upon completing an undergraduate physics program, ideally a graduate should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate physics-specific knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate problem-solving competency: Solve complex, ambiguous problems in real-world contexts.
  3. Demonstrate instrumentation competency: competency in basic experimental technologies, including vacuum, electronics, optics, sensors, and data acquisition equipment. This includes basic experimental instrumentation abilities, such as knowing equipment limitations; understanding and using manuals and specifications; building, assembling, integrating, operating, and troubleshooting equipment; establishing interfaces between apparatus and computers; and calibrating laboratory instrumentation and equipment.
  4. Demonstrate software competency: competency in learning and using industry-standard computational, design, analysis, and simulation software, and documenting the results obtained for a computation or design.
  5. Demonstrate coding competency: competency in writing and executing software programs using a current software language to explore, simulate, or model physical phenomena.
  6. Demonstrate data analytics competency: competency in analyzing data, including with statistical and uncertainty analysis; distinguishing between models; and presenting those results with appropriate tables and charts.
  7. Demonstrate effective communication skills.
  8. Demonstrate professional/workplace skills.
Academic Year Enrollment Degrees Awarded
2023-2024 26 TBD
2022-2023 18 -
2021-2022 20 5
2020-2021 25 5
 2019-2020 35 7
2018-2019 51 6
2017-2018 58 11
2016-2017 63 9
2015-2016 68 8

Notes: Numbers above include students in both the Physics B.S. as well as the Physics B.S. Concentration in Astrophysics. The Engineering Physics, B.S.E. began fall 2017; students in the B.S.E. are not included in the numbers above.