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Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Astronomy & Astrophysics Major

1,052 yearly degrees
#252 in popularity
$111,000 median salary

Astronomy and astrophysics is a major that typically falls into the Physical Sciences category.

There are 18 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in astronomy, 120 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 50 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 48 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an Astronomy Degree?

Astronomy and astrophysics is one of the least chosen majors in the country, ranked #179 in popularity. About 600 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the field in 2017. This major tends to be male dominated. About 64.8% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of astronomy majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 6.7%
  • Black or African American: 1.5%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 11%
  • White: 64.9%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 7.6%
  • Other Races: 8.3%
Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in astronomy. About 7.6% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending astronomy majors to the U.S. are China, India and South Korea.

What Will You Learn as an Astronomy & Astrophysics Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to astronomy to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Astronomy Majors

A major in astronomy should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors

Skills for Astronomy Majors

A major in astronomy prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors

Abilities for Astronomy Majors

As you progress with your astronomy degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

Important Abilities for astronomy Majors

What Can You Do With an Astronomy Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with astronomy:

Careers Related to Astronomy & Astrophysics
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors



Physics Postsecondary Professors






Natural Sciences Managers






Astronomy & Astrophysics Major Salary

Average salaries range from $104,000 to $125,000 for careers related to astronomy. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for an Astronomy Major  ( 104000 to 125000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Astronomy & Astrophysics Major Jobs

Some careers associated with astronomy require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to astronomy have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Astronomy & Astrophysics
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Astronomy & Astrophysics Programs

There are 120 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics, with 1 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is an Astronomy & Astrophysics Major Worth It?

The median salary for an astronomy grad is $111,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 186% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,443,800 after 20 years!

astronomy and astrophysics salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Of Ariz. Via License

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