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Interdisciplinary Track

For those seeking a second major rich in astronomy content


The Interdisciplinary Astronomy (IDA) major is an ideal second major for students seeking to add astronomy content to their primary degree. It provides the solid scientific background needed for technical positions in astronomy or for careers like teaching, science writing, and outreach.

Students pursuing their primary degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field can add an IDA major with little additional coursework. With appropriate advance planning, humanities students can use it to add a STEM focus to their degree.

The IDA major includes foundational courses in math and physics, but the requirements in these areas are less intensive than for the Academic Track. It is designed to be adapted to each student’s career goals; please meet with an advisor to learn how the IDA major can be customized for you.

B.A. or B.S.

Exclusions: Not open to those with a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Effective Winter 2015


- MATH 115, 116, and 215

- PHYSICS* 140/141 [or PHYSICS 160/161 or 135/136]

- PHYSICS 240/241 [or PHYSICS 260/261 or 235/236]

- PHYSICS 340/341 [or PHYSICS 360/341]


A minimum of 31 credits, distributed as follows:

- Astronomy Core: ASTRO 201, 361

- Astronomy Electives. At least six credits from: ASTRO 402, 403, 404, 405, 406***, 461***

- ULWR: ASTRO 429** or ULWR of cognate plan

- Cognates. A minimum of 15 credits of cognate courses as part of an interdisciplinary plan designed with the approval of the department advisor.

*Students are encouraged to take additional Physics courses prior to this, if possible.
**This course satisfies the ULWR.
***These courses are offered on an irregular basis; students interested in taking them should inform the undergraduate advisor of their interest and are advised to register for them when they appear on the schedule.

Possible Programs

The following are examples of possible programs. Each program includes the prerequisites and requirements noted above, plus 15 credits from the student’s primary major. The IDA major is designed to be flexible, and course selection is tailored to students' goals and preferences in consultation with the astronomy advisor.

IDA with Physics

Physics 390 Introduction to Modern Physics
Physics 401 Intermediate Mechanics
Physics 406 Statistical & Thermal Physics
Physics 435 Gravitational Physics
Physics 457 Particle Physics & Cosmology

IDA with Mathematics

Math 354 Fourier Analysis & Applications
Math 404 Intermediate Differential Equations
Math 425 Introduction to Probability
Math 462  Mathematical Models
Math 471   Introduction to Numerical Methods

IDA with Science Writing

English 223 Creative Writing
English 225  Academic Argumentation
English 229 Professional Writing
English 301 The Power of Words
English 342  Science Fiction

IDA with Communications

Comm 121 Evaluating Information & Analyzing Media
Comm 281 Media Psychology
Comm 317 Designing Persuasive Communication
Comm 350 Rise of Mass Culture

IDA with Earth Sciences

Earth 205 Earth: The Dynamic Planet
Earth 310 Geochemistry of the Solid Earth
Earth 320 Earth Systems Evolution
Earth 370 Solar-Terrestrial Relations
Earth 420 Introduction to Earth Physics

IDA with Philosophy

Phil 303 Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Phil 320 The World View of Modern Science
Phil 420 Philosophy of Science
Phil 423 Problems of Space & Time
Phil 427 Science & Gender

IDA with Public Policy

Phil 320 The World View of Modern Science
Phil 322 Methods of Science
Pubpol 312 Environmental Politics & Policy
Pubpol 412 Environmental Values in Public Policy 
Pubpol 481 Physics & National Science Policy

IDA with Chemistry

Chem 210 Organic Chemistry I
Chem 215 Organic Chemistry II
Chem 241 Introduction to Chemical Analysis
Chem 351 Fundamentals of Biochemistry
Chem 461 Physical Chemistry I


If you enjoy astronomy but don’t plan to major in it, an astronomy minor on the Interdisciplinary Track can be a great way to incorporate the field into your existing course of study. Because the physics demands are less intensive than on the Academic Track, it’s often easier for non-science majors to fit an Interdisciplinary Astronomy minor into their schedules. Students interested in this option should meet with an undergraduate advisor to develop a course plan tailored to their goals and interests.