Undergraduate Major

The Physics and Astrophysics Major at FSU

The Physics and Astrophysics (P&A) major was established in the physics department in Spring 2009. The major is designed primarily for students interested in pursuing a career in astronomy/astrophysics research. The curriculum is a rigorous physics degree, augmented by astrophysics courses intended to provide a background in the broad range of phenomena and physics unique to astronomy. Since its introduction, the major has proven popular, averaging 40-50 majors enrolled, roughly a third of all physics majors.

Sample schedules and prerequisites
Example course schedules

These focus on the astro-related courses. There is a lot of flexibility, but it is most important to take AST 4211 (Intro to Astro) as soon as you can—usually in the Fall of year 2, along with PHY 3101 (Int. Modern) and PHY 3221 (Mechanics), because these are the gateways to the upper-level courses (see flow chart below).

Note that you do not need to take Chemistry II, only Chem I is required: CHM 1045, 1045L (3,1) General Chemistry I and Laboratory or CHM 1050, 1050L (3,1) Honors General Chemistry I and Lab. The registrar's requirement document is confusing on this point.

Term and Year Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Fall
year 2
AST 4211 - Intro to Astro AST 4211 - Intro to Astro AST 4211 - Intro to Astro
Spring
year 2
AST 4722 - Observational Techniques AST 4722 - Observational Techniques
AST 4419 - Extragalactic Astronomy
AST 4419 - Extragalactic Astronomy
Fall
year 3
AST 3721L - Astrophysics Laboratory AST 3721L - Astrophysics Laboratory PHZ 4390 - Particle and Nuclear Physics
Spring
year 3
AST 4419 - Extragalactic Astronomy AST 4217 - Physics of Stars AST 4722 - Observational Techniques
Fall
year 4
AST 4414 - Cosmology
PHZ 4601 - Special and General Relativity
AST 4414 - Cosmology
AST - Hydrodynamics
AST 3721L - Astrophysics Laboratory
AST - Hydrodynamics
Spring
year 4
AST 4217 - Physics of Stars
AST - Radiative processes in Astrophysics
PHZ 4316 - Nuclear Astrophysics
AST - Radiative processes in Astrophysics
AST 4217 - Physics of Stars
PHZ 4316 - Nuclear Astrophysics

Other useful classes include: COP 3014 - Intro to C++ programming; ISC 3313 - Introduction to Scientific Computing; COP 3353 - Intro to Unix.

Prerequisite flow-chart


zoomable pdf version

Please inform Prof Huffenberger of any errors in this chart.

Preparing for research

Background reading

American Astronomical Society https://aas.org/learn/careers-astronomy

American Physical Society https://www.aps.org/careers/guidance

AIP Physics Trends: statistics on hiring, graduate school, industry salaries, etc. https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends

Careers for numbers people http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/careers-for-numbers-people/

Graduate school planning (and beyond)

American Astronomical Society https://aas.org/learn/planning-your-education

Academic Advising

Students who are interested in the Physics and Astrophysics major, or current P&A majors looking for academic advising should contact Dr. Huffenberger who is the advisor for the P&A major.

Summer Classes at Other Schools in Florida

To enroll in Summer classes elsewhere as a transient student go to: http://www.floridashines.org

  1. Scroll down about halfway to the banner that says “Get Started” and click on the middle image that says “Take a course at another school.”
  2. At the bottom of that next page, click on the link that says “Start or check the status of your Transient Student Admission Application now.” That will take you to a page where you'll log into your FSU account.
  3. After you’ve done that, fill out the forms and include
    • the school you would like to attend over the summer
    • the course[s] you’d like to take.
  4. Once you've submitted the form, the undergraduate office (Brian Wilcoxon in 307 Keen) will get an email asking to approve your application; when that is done (and after the registrar's offices at both schools approve the application) you will be given additional information about actually registering for those courses.

If you need to change anything at any time, you should be able to do so, without any problem.

Simultaneous Enrollment

We have what is called a “Co-Op Program,” in which students who are mostly enrolled in courses at either FSU, FAMU, or TCC, but need to take a course at one of those other cooperating institutions, may do so. As appropriate go to

for instructions on navigating this system. Essentially, you’ll need to contact the Registrar at FAMU/TCC to obtain the forms necessary to do this.

Note that one of the policies of this program is that “Courses taken at the host institution must not be offered at the home institution.” In other words, if a student is enrolled in FSU, but wants to take a course at TCC, that course can't be offered at FSU. This is rarely a problem since there is usually a legitimate reason why a student would need to take a course at one of the cooperating institutions (as long as there is some documented need for the student to take a course at another institution.)

Contact the undergraduate coordinator if you need help.

Also note you would have to pay fees to the other school for that course, assuming you are approved to take it there.