Why Study Astronomy?

Chances are that you're already interested in astronomy if you're reading this. Who wouldn't want to tell their friends and family that they are studying the births of stars and planets, the absorption of material by enormous black holes, or the evolution of galaxies across billions of years? In short, astronomers study the mysteries of the universe. We're a rare breed; there are only some 20,000 professional astronomers in the world.

Students with degrees in astronomy often go on to fulfilling careers as researchers, educators, or a combination of the two. Many others work for the government, industry, observatories, museums, newspapers, and so forth. A B.S. in Astronomy gives you a very solid foundation in mathematics and physics, and you normally gain hands-on experience with computer programming and statistics as well. Needless to say, this is an attractive package for employers if you decide not to continue in academia!

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a number of useful resources in the Education Services and Career Services sections of their website. The most helpful for prospective astronomy students is the Career Brochure (PDF document), which gives many details about the process of becoming an astronomer and the various jobs that you can do with an astronomy degree. The American Institute of Physics' Statistical Research Center has results from extensive surveys on graduates' employment and salaries (and much more!). The Center has more information about physics students than astronomy students, but the results are often similar.

Undergraduate students at Maryland frequently combine an interest in astronomy with other disciplines. Double-majoring in Physics and Astronomy is quite common, since a B.S. in Astronomy simultaneously fulfills many of the requirements for a Physics degree. Astronomy is also one possible 'area of concentration' for computer science, physical sciences, or mathematics majors. It is also possible to minor in Astronomy.

  • Why Maryland?
    Click here to learn why the University of Maryland is an excellent place for studying astronomy.
  • Astronomy Undergraduate Program
    Learn about our courses, major, minors, and other aspects of our program.
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Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology    Joint Space-Science Center    Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft    UMd Astronomy-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Partnership    UMd Astronomy-Cote d'Azur Observatory Scientific Cooperation and Academic Exchange