Discover the Universe:

Astronomy Colorado

Astronomy / February 21, 2024

fiske planetariumStudy topics in space sciences (astronomy, astrophysics, planetary sciences, solar physics, and space physics). Experience a unified view of space sciences, the solar system, extrasolar planets, stellar and galactic astronomy, and cosmology. Gain hands-on experience with telescopes, data analysis, instrumentation, and computer image-processing. Check out the degree requirements, current courses, and other aspects of the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Department undergraduate program. There are many groups and help sessions undergraduate students can join to ensure success in the APS program.

Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy

The astronomy degree has two tracks - General Astronomy (APS degree only), and the Astrophysics / Physics (supervised jointly by APS and Physics).

General Astronomy

This track is a Liberal Arts degree in the science of astronomy, observations, and technology. This track provides core training in astronomical sciences, together with mathematics, applied physics, computational and instrumental technology needed for professions in the space sciences. Some students will be inclined toward space observations (ground-based telescopes, rocket probes, space-borne observatories). Others will have strong interests in K-12 science education, for which astronomy provides excellent science content for motivating young students. Still other students will desire to acquire broad training in science policy and science writing.


This track is directed toward students interested in pursuing graduate studies in astrophysics. For these students, we require multi-disciplinary work in physics and mathematics together with astronomy. The new track offers a superior experience for students, with `value added' from the professional astrophysics and planetary science faculty in APS. Graduates will be provided with scientific and technological training in the space sciences, including mathematical, physical, computational, and instrumental expertise.

The specific goals of the APS Astronomy major are:

  • To provide both practical and theoretical knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics at a level comparable to the best programs at other major U.S. public institutions. The APS Department is one of the few programs that combines both astrophysics and planetary science. As a result, we avoid duplications of overlapping curricula, and provide a unified view of space sciences, the solar system and comparative planetology, stellar and galactic astronomy, and cosmology.
  • To provide courses on, and significant hands-on experience with, telescopes, optics, instrumentation, computer image processing, and computer modeling. Such skills are useful for students wishing to pursue graduate degrees or careers in aerospace, technical or computer industries.
  • To provide opportunities for faculty-advised research and senior (honors) theses.

We offer you the ability to graduate with honors. This requires you maintain a minimum GPA and that you write and defend an honors thesis. More information can be obtained from the APS department office and/or the Honors Council Representative (Erica Ellingson). More general information about the honors thesis is on CU-Boulder's Honors Program page.

We provide you with several resources in pursuing this degree:


Declaration of a minor in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder. Coursework applied to the minor may be applied to another major or towards core curriculum requirements. Minimum requirements for a minor include:

  1. A minimum of six APS courses, including at least 3 advanced courses (numbered above 3500).
  2. All course work applied to a minor must be completed with a grade of C- or better (no pass/fail work may be applied). The grade point average for all minor degree course work must be equal to 2.00 (C) or higher.
  3. Students pursuing an individually structured major or a major in distributed studies are not eligible to earn a minor.
  4. Students are allowed to apply no more than 3 courses, including 2 advanced courses, of transfer work toward a minor.