The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics offers many options for undergraduates to explore the universe through interdisciplinary study that emphasizes mastery of the intellectual processes of inquiry and discovery. Through our courses and programs students broaden their understanding of science as a human endeavor across multiple social, historical, and cultural contexts; comprehend the quantitative reasoning that supports a deep conceptual understanding of science; and develop the habits of mind of scientific thinking.
Students in the Major in Astrophysics program gain a broad knowledge of universal, physical laws spanning scales from the nuclear to cosmological, familiarity with computational methods and statistical data analysis, and experience with experimental and observational techniques through participation in faculty-led research projects. Courses highlight the essential relationships among the Physical Sciences and state-of-the-art research methods to enhance students’ research and analytical skills. The major program offers both a BA and BS option.
Students who are not majoring in the sciences can explore the physical principles and observable properties of astronomical phenomena in course sequences that examine the grand principles governing the Universe and understanding its beginning, to the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, and the search for habitable extrasolar planets. These courses are available on campus and at The University of Chicago Center in Paris and may be taken to satisfy the general education requirement or as part of the Minor in Astronomy and Astrophysics program.
In all courses, students develop a profound understanding of the processes of the scientific method raise possibilities for identifying unanswered questions, recognizing problems and pursuing them confidently, and acknowledging the role of serendipity in the endeavors of science.