The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences offers a BA and a BS in Astronomy. Astronomy is the physical study of stars and stellar systems in the observable universe, its origin, physical properties, changes, and the distribution of its physical phenomena. Astronomy is applied physics, applied using the tools of advanced mathematics, the technology of modern telescopes, and state-of-the-art computer software. An astronomer observes, analyzes, interprets and reports findings.
Sample of Related Skills
- Research the science of the physical study of stars and stellar systems in the observable universe
- Demonstrate an understanding that science is based upon observations of the universe and how that is used to understand some basic phenomenon of our world
- Apply scientific reasoning to future astronomical discoveries to understand their validity as well as to everyday situations
- Discuss how gravity is related to the formation, interaction, and evolution of the solar system, stars, galaxies, and the universe
- Demonstrate a thorough understanding of current accepted theories for the origin of the universe
- Use the scientific method in collecting data, formulating and testing a hypothesis then reaching a conclusion
- Read, analyze, and interpret data to draw valid scientific conclusions and communicate those conclusions in a clear and articulate manner
Popular Career Paths
Astrophysics: Involves the study of the physics of the universe. Whether it is applied to gravitational fields, high-energy particles, or celestial objects like stars and galaxies, astrophysics overlaps significantly with astronomy and can involve many foundational physics concepts like thermodynamics, electromagnetism, or quantum mechanics.
Radar and Radio Astronomy: Focuses on using sophisticated technology to explore the universe using radar and radio waves. Radio astronomers are able to uncover and research things (like chemical reactions or radiation in space) that would be undetectable with optical telescopes that rely on light.
Planetary Science: Centers on the study of the planetary systems. This field can involve specializations in many disciplines including planetary geology, astrobiology, atmospheric science, and others.
Cosmosology: Focuses on the big questions surrounding the universe such as how did it begin? How is it evolving? What is our place in it?
Instrument Design: Involves one of the few subsets of astronomy that is industry-related. Focus is on the combination of astronomy with technical knowledge and engineering skills.
Explore More Career Paths
- American Association of Amateur Astronomers - career profile of an astronomer and information regarding pursuing a career in astronomy
- American Astronomical Society - information on careers, industries, and job statistics in astronomy, as well as information on graduate school
- Ask an Astronomer - responses to general questions, questions of becoming an astronomer, and questions about being an astronomer from graduate students in astronomy
- Astronomical Society of Kansas City - local networking opportunity in the field of astronomy
- Astronomy Jobs and Information - material detailing qualifications and areas of employment in astronomy
- Frequently Asked Questions - answers to common questions explained by staff from the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO)
- 61 Facts About a Career in Astronomy - insider information about a career in astronomy from a research astronomer who works at NASA, Dr. Odenwald
Jobs to Consider
Places to Seek Employment
Mauna Kea Observatories
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The United States Department of Defense
Private Sector Industries: Aerospace and Satellite Communications
View specific employers by state.
- Begin building a strong academic background in physics and mathematics. Enroll in classes in these specializations so you can focus your academics towards a degree in astronomy.
- Become familiar with the required professional qualifications associated with careers that interest you (i.e. advanced degrees).
- Gain direct experience within the areas that interest you most through research projects, independent study, internships, part-time jobs, student organization involvement, or volunteering.
- Register for KU Career Connections and subscribe to the Internship Newsletter to receive automated weekly emails with specific internship information.
- Consider joining a professional organization related to astronomy, such as the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, and, if possible, attend local and/or regional conferences to make connections with professionals working in your field of interest.
- Practice interviewing on your own or by conducting a mock interview at the University Career Center. List of practice questions: general interview (pdf).
- Develop your resume and tailor it to your area(s) of interest: sample resume (pdf).
- Complete an independent study to gain advanced research skills.
- Maintain a strong GPA if you are considering pursuing graduate or professional education.
- Consider getting involved with a student organization at KU related to your area of interest, such as: Astronomy Associates of Lawrence, American Astronomical Society, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Job and Internship Search Resources
- Astronomy Magazine - international publication for the astronomy enthusiast containing possible places of employment or internships
- Astronomy: The Search for a Stellar Career - job market resource for opportunities in astronomy
- Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center - opportunities for possible local internships and employment
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration - opportunities directed towards students for internships, jobs, and general information