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Planetary Science and Astronomy Major

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The Planetary Science & Astronomy (PASTR) major in Penn State's Eberly College of Science is complementary to the ASTRO major but was designed to give students flexibility to pursue a variety of secondary interests.  This major is likely to appeal more to students who wish to pursue a career immediately after graduation in informal or formal science education (for example, at a planetarium), in a support position for the astronomical research community (for example, as an observatory support observer), or in industry with a scientific focus.  Students with a strong desire to pursue a PhD in astrophysics are better served by the ASTRO major.

During your first two years as a PASTR major, you will pursue a broad base in astronomy, geoscience, mathematics, and physics. In the later years, in addition to upper level courses in astronomy and astrobiology, you can customize your degree program by selecting from a long list of advanced courses including more astrophysics, geosciences, geography, meteorology, science education, and others.

Formal entry into the PASTR major at the start of the third year requires:

  • A GPA of at least 2.00 in all courses
  • A grade of C or better in MATH 140
  • Completed at least four of the following courses with a grade of C or better:  ASTRO 120, ASTRO130, ASTRO 140, BIOL 110, CHEM 110, EARTH 002, GEOSC 001, GEOSC 020, or STAT 200

In order to graduate, students must:

  • Complete all course requirements for the major
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better
  • Achieve a grade of C or better in:  BIOL 110, CHEM 110, CHEM 111, CHEM 112, MATH 140, ASTRO 401, ASTRO 402, BIOL/GEOSC 474, and STAT 200
  • Complete all other University requirements

An example of a recommended academic plan (RAP) for the PASTR major for a student wishing to maximize the number of science credits taken.

Additional RAPs will be available soon for students interested in preparation for a teaching career or those who are planning to transfer from the ASTRO major to the PASTR major.