Our Mission - B.S. in Astronomy

The UH Hilo astronomy program aims to (a) develop the science knowledge and analytic skills of students, whether they be majors or not, through a focus on the field of astronomy; and (b) instill an appreciation of science, particularly astronomy, in students. The primary goal is to prepare students for graduate studies, for work as professional physicists, or for careers in secondary education, engineering and just about any technical or scientific fields. The program provides the students with transferable skills so they can excel in a wide range of STEM-related fields. Through the study of astronomy, graduates will also learn to appreciate and understand science more broadly, enabling them to be more informed citizens. The B.S. degree program, taking advantage of our access to Maunakea Observatories, provides the training needed for students seeking careers in astronomy— as professional astronomers, observatory technical staff, and educators. Our program supports the liberal arts mission of the University by providing general education courses in a field of major importance to the State of Hawai'i. Our Astronomy program started in 1994.

Program Learning OutcomesScience and Technology 2nd floor tour of Physiscs and Astronomy

The B.S. program in astronomy is designed to develop student mastery of

  • Major fields of modern astronomy: stars, planets, interstellar/intergalactic gas, galaxies, and cosmology;
  • Basics of mechanics, optics, electromagnetism, atomic structure, and modern physics; and
  • Practical applications such as instrumentation, computation, modern observational techniques, and data analysis.

Goals for Student Learning

Graduates are also expected to:

  • Understand the relations between astronomy and other areas of science;
  • Solve problems with scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills;
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively, both verbally and in writing; and
  • Appreciate the impact of astronomy in the state of Hawai'i.

We also try to provide every opportunity for the students to conduct original research with faculty or Maunakea Observatories staff.

Astronomy Degree Program

The initial two years of the program consist mainly of general education courses that are part of traditional liberal arts education, as well as basic physics, mathematics and introductory astronomy. The junior and senior years are largely devoted to advanced physics and astronomy coursework, observational experience, and senior thesis projects. Students who intend to graduate in four years should be prepared to enroll in elementary calculus and physics courses at the start of their freshman year.

Four-Year Academic Map (2023-2024) Link

Sample four year academic plan from previous 2019-2020

Physics 2019-20 sample four year map

Learn more about the Astronomy Program at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo

Unique Opportunities at UH Hilo

Interested in a Career in Astronomy?

Questions on our program in Astronomy?

Prospective students can get more information about the Physics and Astronomy programs at UH Hilo by contacting the UH Hilo Department co-chairs, R. Pierre Martin and Marianne Takamiya

Astronomy 110 lab group shot

University of Hawai'i at Hilo Astronomy Program