The Study of Astronomy most commonly this takes the form of an interdisciplinary major in astronomy and physics; special majors combining work in geology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics are also available. Alternatively, some students elect to major in any one of these fields, combined with a minor in astronomy. The exact program is always tailored to the student's particular special strengths, interests, and plans; those who are interested—or think they might be—are urged to consult the department as early as possible to plan an appropriate program. All courses are designed to meet the college’s learning Goals and the Astronomy Department’s Learning Goals. See the Astronomy Catalog for specific information on the credits and courses required for the major and minor.
Mount Holyoke’s astronomy major is designed to provide a good foundation in modern science with a focus on astronomy. Taken alone, it is suited for students who wish to apply scientific training in a broad general context.
If coupled with additional course work in physics or geology, the astronomy major or minor provides the foundation to pursue a career as a professional astronomer or planetary scientist. Thus, advanced courses in physics, mathematics, geology, and/or chemistry, as well as a facility in computer programming, are strongly encouraged.
The goal of an astronomy minor is to provide a practical introduction to modern astronomy. If combined with a major in another science or mathematics-related field, such as geology, chemistry, or computer science, it can provide a versatile scientific background that prepares a student for future work as a scientist or technical specialist.
Alternatively, the minor may be combined with a major in a nonscientific field, such as history, philosophy, or education, for students who wish to apply their astronomical backgrounds in a broader context that could include history of science, scientific writing or editing, or science education.