Department of Physics

University of Iowa Astronomy

Universities / October 15, 2016

Physics and astronomy students are driven to understand the nature of space, time, and matter from the quantum level to the outer reaches of the universe. They are intellectually curious, bright, and confident individuals preparing to make their mark in a wide range of careers.

Why Study at Iowa?

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers challenging courses on a variety of subjects. You'll begin with courses that teach problem-solving skills, logical thinking, and technical skills. Advanced classes usually have 15-20 students, allowing maximum individual attention. As you progress, you'll have opportunities to do research or participate in one of the many internships available at national laboratories and other facilities.

Outside of class, you may join the Society of Physics Students, which is open to all students interested in the subject. The society coordinates field trips and activities that foster student-faculty interaction and scientific learning.

The physics and astronomy program has about 110 undergraduate and 70 graduate students. For more information about our program and students, visit

Course Work

Students majoring in astronomy may earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS).

In general, the BS prepares you for graduate study in physics or astronomy and for research-related careers. The BA gives you a foundation for professional study in law, medicine, and other areas; for careers in fields such as administration, business, and technical writing; for secondary school teaching; and for graduate school.

These courses are required for both the BA and BS degree programs:

  • Calculus I–II
  • Physics I–II–III–IV
  • General Astronomy I–II
  • Intermediate Mechanics
  • Introduction to Astrophysics I–II
  • Astronomical Laboratory
  • Additional physics and astronomy courses (choices are different for BA and BS students)

It is possible to graduate with honors in both degree programs. With a few additional physics courses, a double major with physics is also possible.

Teaching Licensure

The BA degree program is more suitable than the BS program if you are interested in teaching science at the secondary school level. Review the College of Education's Teacher Education Program website for more information. Iowa also offers a BS in Science Education.

Admission Requirements

Astronomy majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

First-Year RequirementsTransfer Requirements

Transfer Tips:

These resources can help facilitate your transfer to Iowa in astronomy:

International Requirements

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.