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Goals of Different Programs Summarized

The sample curricula show 4 distinct approaches to the study of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California at Berkeley. The first two are for students with a strong focus on physics and astrophysics. They differ in the starting point upon entry to UCB and the amount of upper division physics courses taken along with major in Astrophysics. Frequently a double major is taken with Astrophysics and Physics.

The second two curricula offer students opportunity for broader study in the physical sciences at Berkeley with less concentration on upper division Physics. Students can explore parallel interests in chemistry, geophysics, engineering and computer sciences. The Physical Sciences major can be pursued with an Astrophysics concentration or even an Astrophysics minor.

Undergraduate curriculum philosophy for focused Astrophysics majors and double majors:

Career goals: astrophysics graduate work or other advanced degree in related fields.

The Astro 7AB courses provide a broad overview of astronomy that applies basic physical theory to the structure, origin and fate of stars and systems of stars andincludes a description of the fundamental structure and evolution of space-time.  Physics 7A (mechanics, waves) and Math 1AB (calculus) are essential preparations to Astro 7AB. Completion of the Physics 7ABC series and Math 53AB concurrent with Astro 7AB is expected.

The Astro 120, 121, 122 laboratory courses give a basic introduction to astronomical measurements and astronomical instrumentation by in depth work at optical/radio/infrared wavelengths, respectively. Physics 110AB (E&M) are recommended as prerequisites, or as concurrent enrollment, for Astro 120B.

The Astro 160 & C161 courses build on the physics background obtained in early courses (1) to show how physics determines the typical masses, radii, luminosities and evolution of stars (160), cosmological expansion, the behavior of high energy particles and large-scale structure formation (160 & C161); and (2) to teach the students how to estimate and carry out dimensional analysis. We strongly recommend that the student take  Physics 112 (statisical physics) and 110AB (E&M) as juniors as these provide essential background for astrophysics and Physics 137AB (quantum) concurrently with Astro 160 & C161 in their senior year. Astro 7AB are not required for Astro 160 & C161 but they are required for Astrophysics majors. Double majoring with Physics is encouraged because of the central role of advanced physics in astrophysics.


Undergraduate curriculum philosophy for broad Astrophysics major and double majors and Physical Science majors with Astrophysics concentration or minor

Career goals: teachers, field engineer, computing applications, scientific and technical writing, other technical fields

The Astro 7AB courses provide a broad overview of astronomy that applies basic physical theory to the structure, origin and fate of stars and systems of stars and includes a description of the fundamental structure and evolution of space-time. Physics 7A (mechanics, waves) and Math 1AB (calculus) are essential preparations to Astro 7AB. Completion of the Physics 7ABC series and Math 53AB concurrent with Astro 7AB is expected.

Astro 120, 121, 122 laboratory courses give a basic introduction to astronomical measurements and astronomical instrumentation by in depth work at optical/radio/infrared wavelengths, respectively. Physics 110AB (E&M) are recommended as prerequisites, or as concurrent enrollment, for Astro 121.

Astronomy C162 is a selective tour of the solar system from an astrophysicist's perspective.  This course covers a carefully chosen set of topics in planetary interiors, surfaces, atmospheres, and gravitational dynamics that demonstrate fundamental physical processes.  

This Astrophysics curriculum path is available to those taking a broader range of courses in physical sciences and engineering. Double majoring in sciences other than physics and in engineering is encouraged. This curriculum also allows more flexibility for late starters and those desiring a less demanding program in physics to obtain an Astrophysics degree.