This program prepares students for graduate school, a career in research or teaching, or employment in industry, business, or education fields where analytical skills and a scientific background are advantageous. Students who are considering a double major should talk to the undergraduate coordinator.


University-wide admissions policies can be found in Undergraduate Admissions Policies.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.


Students must fulfill all Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees including the Mason Core.

At least 18 credits used to fulfill an Astronomy, BS cannot be used to fulfill another major or minor. Some course substitutions are allowed for double majors, subject to approval from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

By taking ASTR 402 RS: Methods of Observational Astronomy (Mason Core), astronomy majors satisfy the university's writing-intensive requirement.

For policies governing all undergraduate programs, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Banner Code: SC-BS-ASTR

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Students must complete a total of 58 credits in physics and astronomy and 14 credits in mathematics with a minimum GPA of 2.00.

Required Astronomy Courses

ASTR 124Introduction to Observational Astronomy1
ASTR 210Introduction to Astrophysics3
ASTR 328Stars3
ASTR 401Computer Simulation in Astronomy3
ASTR 402RS: Methods of Observational Astronomy (Mason Core) 14
Total Credits14

Fulfills the writing intensive requirement.

Required Physics Courses

Choose one of the following two sequences:8
Sequence One
University Physics I (Mason Core)
and University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core) (the lab can be taken with, or any time after, PHYS 160)
University Physics II (Mason Core)
and University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core) (the lab can be taken with, or any time after, PHYS 260)
Sequence Two
Introductory and Modern Physics I (Mason Core)
and University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core) (the lab can be taken with, or any time after, PHYS 170)
Introductory and Modern Physics II (Mason Core)
and University Physics II Laboratory (Mason Core) (the lab can be taken with, or any time after, PHYS 270)
PHYS 251Introduction to Computer Methods in Physics (Mason Core)3
PHYS 262University Physics III (Mason Core)3
PHYS 301Analytical Methods of Physics3
PHYS 303Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 305Electromagnetic Theory3
Total Credits23

Required Math Courses

MATH 113Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core)4
MATH 114Analytic Geometry and Calculus II4
MATH 213Analytic Geometry and Calculus III3
MATH 214Elementary Differential Equations3
Total Credits14

Additional Coursework

Select 21 credits from the following:21
Planetary Science
Galaxies and Cosmology
Senior Research
Astronomy Internship
The Interstellar Medium
Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation
Thermal Physics
Modern Physics
Waves and Optics
Intermediate Computer Methods in Physics
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics
Quantum Mechanics II
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Planetary Atmospheres and Ionospheres
Atmospheric Physics
Total Credits21

Mason Core and Elective Credits

In order to meet a minimum of 120 credits, this degree requires an additional 48 credits, which may be applied toward any remaining Mason Core requirements (outlined below), Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, and electives. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors to ensure that they fulfill all requirements.

Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Students who have completed the following credentials are eligible for a waiver of the Foundation and Exploration (lower level) requirement categories. The Integration category (upper level) is not waived under this policy. See Admissions for more information. 

  • VCCS Uniform Certificate of General Studies
  • VCCS or Richard Bland Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.&S.), or Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)
Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Global History3
Global Understanding3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.


Minimum 3 credits required.

Honors in the Major


Astronomy majors who have completed the prerequisites for ASTR 405 Honors Thesis in Astronomy I, have a GPA of at least 3.50 in ASTR and PHYS courses taken at Mason, and have a GPA of at least 3.50 in all courses taken at Mason may apply for admission to the astronomy honors program. Not all applicants who meet the minimum requirements are guaranteed acceptance. Please visit the department for details.

Honors Requirements

To graduate with honors in astronomy, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.50 in their ASTR/PHYS courses. Students accepted into the honors program must complete ASTR 405 Honors Thesis in Astronomy I and ASTR 406 Honors Thesis in Astronomy II with a GPA of at least 3.50 and a grade of ‘A-’ or better in ASTR 406 Honors Thesis in Astronomy II. Students in ASTR 405 Honors Thesis in Astronomy I/ASTR 406 Honors Thesis in Astronomy II will complete a research project and write a thesis working under the supervision of a faculty member. At the end of ASTR 406 Honors Thesis in Astronomy II, the student will write a substantial thesis paper and make a presentation of results to their honors committee.