Astronomy at the University of Maryland

So you are interested in astronomy, but you're not sure where to go for your education? Here are just some of the reasons why Maryland makes sense.

Astronomy courses provide the most value if you have hands-on experience to accompany them. Maryland places a very strong emphasis on undergraduate research, and many advanced students get involved with research during the summers and/or school years. Maryland faculty have access to world class facilities; they make discoveries with space missions, space telescopes, and ground-based telescopes around the world, or use state-of-the-art computational facilities to push theoretical simulations to their limits. The teaching loads are lower than those of most smaller colleges, allowing the faculty to work at the cutting-edge frontier of scientific knowledge and to involve students in these projects.

Maryland's location in the Washington, D.C. area is also a major advantage for student researchers. There are a number of government facilties nearby where students can intern, most notably at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Quality education is of primary importance at the University of Maryland, and the Department of Astronomy is proud of the high teaching evaluation scores received by faculty in both survey courses and courses for majors. Two other areas that play a very important role in undergraduate education are how frequently the required courses for majors are taught (once per semester, once per year, once per two years) and the range of upper level courses that are offered. Our department excels in both respects because of the large number of astronomy faculty.

In addition to the major, our department offers both an Astronomy minor aimed at non-science majors and (in conjunction with the Department of Geology) a Planetary Science minor open to both science and non-science majors.

First and second year students in the College Park Scholars "Science, Discovery, and the Universe" program can learn about astronomy while taking classes together and living in a common residence hall. They attend colloquia, go on special excursions, and carry out a capstone project in their second year.

Advanced students at Maryland have the opportunity to serve as paid teaching assistants (TAs) for the introductory courses. By helping their peers understand astronomical concepts and techniques, teaching assistants extend their own knowledge of the material and establish themselves as experienced educators.

Aside from academics, the University of Maryland's size and location offers a range of opportunities not available elsewhere. The university is very diverse, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. There are a tremendous number of student clubs and organizations, with intramural sports, outdoor adventure, social dance, fencing, chess, and anime being just the tip of the iceberg. One example is the AstroTerps, a student organization whose members attend astronomy talks, go on field trips, and assist with the observatory open houses and other public outreach activities. The university's location in the nation's capital gives access to world-class museums, festivals, music, and sporting events.

Come to the University of Maryland. You'll be glad you did!



  • Why Astronomy?
    Click here to learn more about the process of becoming an astronomer and the variety of career paths that you can choose.
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