Undergraduate Program

A student views a partial lunar eclipse at through the 12-inch telescope the University of Illinois Observatory.
Image Credit: UI News Bureau: Fred Zwicky

The Astronomy Department undergraduate program includes majors in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Computer Science & Astronomy, and Astronomy + Data Science, as well as a minor in Astronomy.

Astronomy Major

The major in astronomy is based upon both a broad and an in-depth exploration into astronomy and allied disciplines and is an excellent way to gain a general science education. It may be chosen by students who wish to have an astronomy research career or an astronomy background for use in related fields, such as working in national laboratories, observatories, planetariums, NASA, aerospace industry, many computer-related fields, journalism, or science writing. STEM designated*; BSLAS Degree (Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts & Sciences)

Astrophysics Major

Modern astronomy is astrophysics, the study of how the Universe works by applying the methods and principles of physics. Astrophysicists study some of the biggest questions known today, from studying stars and planets to black holes and dark energy. In the Astrophysics major, the goal is to provide an unsurpassed rigorous preparation for students.  Leveraging the strengths of the departments of Astronomy and Physics, this program provides students with one of the most flexible astrophysics options in the country. The BSLAS in Astrophysics will provide the rigorous preparation necessary for graduate study in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and it prepares students for employment in technical or scientific fields. STEM designated*; BSLAS Degree (Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts & Sciences)

Computer Science + Astronomy Major

Do you love pursuing and discovering new knowledge? Would you like to apply your problem-solving skills and computational expertise to big-impact mysteries like the origins of life and our universe? If you answered yes to either question, then you should consider the Computer Science + Astronomy major. This major allows students to combine study of computer science with training in Astronomy to offer students novel perspectives in interdisciplinary work. The astronomy perspective’s unique approach to problem-solving will prepare you for a range of occupations. You’ll develop critical thinking skills that give a different perspective than physics or engineering. And, you’ll be able to model complex problems and find fast solutions. STEM designated*; BSLAS Degree (Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts & Sciences)

Astronomy + Data Science Major

The Astronomy + Data Science major incorporates simultaneously a strong foundation in data science and Astronomy. The field of Astronomy is being transformed by the advent of large astronomical data sets. For example, astronomers are about to be awash in data in a way that has been unheard of to date with the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, to which Illinois is an important contributor. Graduates of the Astronomy + Data Science program will learn how to work with modern large data sets using current computational and statistical methods, with a strong grounding in data curation and ethics. These skills are transferrable to the many jobs and careers that need workers who can handle and communicate about data across the knowledge economy, such as agribusiness, computing, education, engineering, finance, government, insurance, marketing, medicine, supply chain, and many more. STEM designated*; BSLAS Degree (Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts & Sciences)

Astronomy Minor

The minor in astronomy is designed to broaden the student's knowledge of science and our place in the universe. The minor in Astronomy will benefit especially those students who are eager to learn astronomy but who do not anticipate it to be their career. The Astronomy minor is also suitable for students who intend to pursue careers in areas that may benefit from a good knowledge of astronomy such as aerospace industry, science writing, scientific journalism, or science teaching in schools.

Astrophysics Program Track in Physics

Students majoring in Physics must elect a set of technical or professional courses that address a cohesive body of knowledge. For Physics majors interested in astronomy & astrophysics, a pre-approved program track in Astrophysics is available.


To get answers to your questions about our undergraduate programs in astronomy or to schedule a visit, contact Bryan Dunne.