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Best Online Degrees in: Physics Astronomy

Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics Astronomy

A degree in astronomy provides extensive course work in physics, mathematics, and computer science to study regions beyond the Earth. Physics in astronomy is necessary for students hoping to pursue a career in astronomy research. A bachelor's degree in astronomy, astrophysics, or physics will take about four years, depending on the student's semester course load, additional programs, and progress.

Class Curriculum

Core requirements cover general physics and mathematical courses, work as well as laboratory methods and computer science. Introductory course work in astronomy and astrophysics covers the formation, evolution, composition, and death of stars, the evolution and composition of galaxies, and the structure and composition of the universe. Mathematics core course work requires calculus, multivariate calculus, and differential equations. Physics core course work includes computational and theoretical physics.

  • Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics. Course work covers celestial coordinates and motions, laws of motion, gravitation, light and matter, special relativity, black holes, galaxy classification, and the universe. The history of astrology, constellations, and stellar properties and patterns may also be covered.
  • Analytical Physics.Analytical physics requires calculus and vector algebra. The course covers constant acceleration, motion in two dimensions and projectile and circular motion, Newton's laws, the law of conservation of energy, and the force of gravity.
  • Quantum Mechanics.Quantum mechanics covers the uncertainty principle, identical particles, and perturbation theory. An understanding of differential equations, complex numbers, and vector algebra are required for quantum mechanics, as well as some background with electrodynamics and classical mechanics.

Most physics and astronomy courses are supplemented with a lab requirement. Reading and problem sets will coincide with lectures for both mathematics and physics requirements, and research opportunities may be available in astrophysics and related fields, depending on the program.

Building a Career

A bachelor's degree in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, or astromechanics is usually designed to prepare students for Ph.D. programs, but will also provide the qualifications to become technicians and research assistants in related fields like engineering and computer science. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for physicists was $106,730 and the median annual wage was $105,430 for astrophysicists in May 2010. Employment for physicists and astronomers is expected to increase by 17% between 2010 and 2020. Keep in mind that most positions require an advanced degree, namely a Ph.D., and that employment and wage figures vary by employer, area, experience, and other factors, and are not guaranteed.

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