Undergraduate Program

We offer undergraduate majors and minors in Astronomy. Courses taken by undergraduate Astronomy majors are characterized by their small size, rarely are enrollments over 10, and their intimate character. Instruction and learning take place in nearly optimal circumstances. Graduates of the program go on to the best graduate programs or are very competitive for technical positions in industry.

Details of the program are provided by in the official Undergraduate Bulletin. Links to the relevant parts are provided below.

The AST Program

AST Course Offerings

Details and websites for individual courses are provided in the full list of undergraduate courses offered by the department.

Upper-level Writing Requirement

  • Each AST major must submit 2 papers for the upper-level writing requirement. The goal of the upper level writing requirement is that you can research an idea and present a discussion of it in your own words.

  • Lab reports: The standard ("canned") AST 443 labs do not facilitate this goal, since the background work is already done for you. As a result, we will not accept upper level writing reports based on those standard labs. However, in that class you also have the opportunity to write your own observing proposal, which is an independent creative work, and if selected, do the lab on this. We will accept an expanded version of that lab for consideration of the upper level writing requirement -- but only for the individual who wrote the original proposal.

  • Common ways to satisfy the upper level writing requirement include using a research paper from another upper-level AST class, writing up a summary of research you have been doing with faculty on campus, or picking a topic of interest to you and researching it and writing up a paper describing the state of that field.

Feingold Prize

Graduate Program

The Graduate Program currently has about 10-15 M.S. and Ph.D. students actively working in Astronomical research areas, and adds three to five new students each year. The emphasis is on a rigorous program of study and research in astrophysics leading to the Ph.D. degree, but we also offer opportunities for students with educational goals culminating at the master's level. Students follow a course of study that is both broadly based and topical, and are encouraged to participate in research with the faculty from the beginning of their graduate careers. Stony Brook's Astronomy Program is distinguished by the number of Ph.D. students who have taken positions at universities and research laboratories around the world.

The first two years of the graduate program emphasizes coursework but also includes research or individual study courses in which the student works closely with a faculty member, often on a potential thesis topic. Upon completion of the courses, the student takes a qualifying examination for the master's degree and/or for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The Ph.D. candidate, together with a faculty adviser, then develops a topic for thesis research. Students may elect either theoretical or observational subjects, according to their own and their advisor's interests. Average time from entrance into graduate school to completion of the Ph.D. degree is five and a half years.

Students take courses in physics and astronomy. In addition to the standard sequence of astronomy course (Stars, Interstellar Medium, Galaxies, and Cosmology), specialized courses and seminars are offered.

Details and websites for individual courses are provided in the full list of graduate courses offered by the department.

Detailed requirements for the Graduate Program in Physics and Astronomy are available at the Departmental Web Page as well as directions on how to contact us.