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Undergraduate Majors

Ohio University's nine undergraduate colleges offer more than 250 programs of study. Students may select from a wide variety of majors, minors and certificates. While most undergraduate programs at the Athens campus are designed to be completed in four years, a limited number of two-year degree programs are available as well.

Astrophysics Major (B.S. in Astrophysics) [offered through Honors Tutorial College]

Major Code BS1931

Honors Tutorial College  
35 Park Place
Athens, OH 45701
Phone: 740.593.2723
Fax: 740.593.9521

David Drabold, director of studies/contact person

Program Overview

The Honors Tutorial Bachelor of Science program in astrophysics (offered by the Physics and Astronomy Department) provides unique opportunities for exceptional students. The astrophysics program is intended for students interested in pursuing graduate work in astronomy, or planning careers related to space science. The curriculum includes the same requirements as the HTC physics major; a solid foundation in classical and modern physics leading to deeper study in more specialized areas including quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, nuclear and elementary particle physics, and condensed matter physics. Astrophysics courses make up a significant part of the sophomore, junior and senior years. The senior thesis is expected to be on an astrophysical topic. At the heart of the program is the tutorial, in which the student studies selected materials under the guidance of a faculty member acting as tutor. At individual  weekly meetings the student and tutor discuss the weekly reading, solutions to problems, and other assignments. Tutorials continue through all four years of the program, with the senior year devoted to research for a thesis. Students typically spend one-semester to one-third of their total time (and academic credit) in tutorials, the rest being in laboratories or in other required or elective classes. Because the Honors Tutorial College has no specific general education (or "distribution") requirements, students are free to create unique courses of study in subjects outside their major fields according to personal taste. Astrophysics students frequently take courses in chemistry, biology, and computer science, but interest in areas further afield, such as music, language, or history, is also very much encouraged.


Astrophysics students are strongly encouraged to gain experience as research assistants, either in the Physics and Astronomy Department's laboratories or through temporary internships at other universities, research centers, or national labs or observatories. Research work usually begins in the third or fourth year, though opportunities can sometimes arise earlier, and often become the basis of the student's senior thesis. Research opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics include studying the structure and evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters, the power sources of quasars, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Admissions Information

Freshman/First-Year Admission

Students are selected by the Honors Tutorial College and the Physics and Astronomy Tutorial Board on the basis of superior ability and sustained motivation. The faculty look for good scores on standardized tests (30 composite score on the ACT or a combined score of 1300 on the SAT), but are also interested in a strong high school record (grade point average and class standing). The personalized aspects of the tutorial system occasionally make it possible to accept students who have performed less well on standardized measures of ability but who demonstrate exceptional aptitude in other ways. The priority deadline for application for admission is December 1st, and admission interviews are held in January.

Change of Program Policy

First-year students at Ohio University may apply to transfer into the tutorial programs offered by Physics and Astronomy Department and the Honors Tutorial College. These students must meet the same entrance requirements as entering HTC freshmen. The priority deadline for application for admission is December 1st.

External Transfer Admission

First-year students at another institution may also apply to transfer into the tutorial programs offered by the Physics and Astronomy Department and the Honors Tutorial College. These students must meet the same entrance requirement as entering HTC freshmen. The priority deadline for application for admission is December 1st.

Opportunities Upon Graduation

Recipients of the B.S. degree in astrophysics possess high-level problem-solving skills that can lead to opportunities for employment in research institutions, government, industry, or teaching. This degree also prepares students for graduate study in astrophysics and related fields.