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Academic Track

For those planning a graduate degree in the field


The major in Astronomy and Astrophysics is a math- and physics-intensive path with a research component for those planning a graduate degree in the field. It is designed to help students mount competitive applications for external undergraduate research opportunities and the country’s top graduate programs.

Students generally declare an astronomy major during the second semester of their sophomore year, but are advised to meet with the undergraduate advisor soon as they begin considering it. This helps ensure they’re prepared with the right courses and are taking advantage of all the opportunities the department has to offer.


- Mathematics through MATH 216

- PHYSICS 160/161 [or PHYSICS 140/141] and one of EECS 183, ENGR 101, or an equivalent computing course approved by an Astronomy department advisor

- PHYSICS 240/241 or 260/261

- PHYSICS 340 or 360


Additional Recommended Courses

Some optional but useful courses are listed below.


Physics 406* Statistical and Thermal Physics
Physics 402 Optics
Physics 457 Subatomic Physics

Computer Science

EECS 182* Building Application for Information Environments (Python-based)
EECS 183 Elementary Programming Concepts (C++)
EECS 285 Programming and Computer Systems (after 183)
*Physics 406 and EECS 182 are strongly recommended.

Honors Plan

Students who are interested in scholarly research in astronomy and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 are encouraged to consider the Honors plan. Students with a lower GPA may be admitted to the program at the discretion of the department advisor. The program requires writing a senior Honors thesis based on research done in collaboration with a faculty member. Interested students should consult with the department advisor by the beginning of their junior year.


Students with a science, math, or engineering major can often incorporate the added dimension of a minor in Astronomy and Astrophysics with only a few additional courses if their degrees already require a significant background in physics.

For more information

For insight into getting the most out of a major on the Academic Track at Michigan Astronomy, please see an alumnus' Advice to Undergraduates on the Academic Track.