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What is Astronomy?

Astronomers analyze the planets, stars and other celestial bodies. OU's Department of Physics and Astronomy students study the evolution of the stars, the movement of the planets, and the effects that these changes have on the universe. These students gain important research, math, and science skills that are needed in a variety of jobs in such large corporations as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon. In addition to being prepared for careers in astronomy, students will learn key technical skills needed for careers in data science, the aerospace industry, finance, technical writing, and scientific research. The skills students gain as undergraduates are highly versatile and desirable.

Students in the astronomy program have the opportunity to participate in meaningful research with OU faculty on star and planet formation, supernovae, black holes, and galaxies. They will gain hands-on experience using a 3.5 meter research telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico as part of one of their scheduled courses. In their final course, students work in groups to improve their public speaking skills and scientific reasoning. Students also work one-on-one with professors to prepare them for their future careers.

Metal heliocentric system

So, what's my degree?

OU offers two different degree programs in astronomy/astrophysics: one is the professional degree called Bachelor of Science in astrophysics (Major Code B082) and the other is the standard degree in astronomy called Bachelor of Science in astronomy (Major Code B080).  The astrophysics degree is more math and physics intensive, and is designed for students who anticipate going to graduate school or entering industry in data science. The astronomy degree  is designed for students who might choose other career paths, such as teaching, public outreach, or technical writing.

Do my interests fit?

Astronomy students typically have interests in:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Physics
  • Space (stars, galaxies, planets, black holes, telescopes, cosmology)
  • Problem solving
  • The way things work

High school preparation should include mathematics and science courses, especially physics.

How can OU Astronomy help me?

With a 4:1 faculty to student ratio, opportunities are abundant to get to know faculty and work with them. Our graduates are in academic and industry positions throughout the country and around the world. Our capstone experience guarantees every student gets real, cutting-edge research experience.

What courses will I take?

Astronomy courses include:

  • Introductory Astrophysics
  • Stars 
  • Galaxies and Cosmology
  • Introductory Physics
  • Physical Mechanics

How can I get involved?

There are numerous organizations physics students can be a part of:

How can I study abroad?

OU has numerous study abroad opportunities for students of all majors. Whether you want to take electives, lower-division courses, or major requirements, be sure to check out what education abroad opportunities are available to you through the College of International Studies

What kind of career could I pursue?

  • Aerospace manufacturers
  • Government agencies
  • Public and private schools
  • Universities
  • Researcher
  • Astronomer
  • Physicist
  • Technical writer
  • Physics teacher
  • Lab technician

How much will I make?

Visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website to explore the median pay for jobs you can pursue with this degree. 

Contact Us

Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences The University of Oklahoma

Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy    
Phone: (405) 325-3961