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Astronomy & Astrophysics Major

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Astronomy & Astrophysics

683 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
145 Master's Degrees Annually
#179 in Popularity
$111,090 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many astronomy and astrophysics graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 684
Doctor’s Degree 211
Master’s Degree 145
Associate’s Degree 12
Graduate Certificate 6
Basic Certificate 2
Undergraduate Certificate 2

What Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to astronomy and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Astronomy Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in astronomy should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Astronomy Majors

When studying astronomy, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Abilities for Astronomy Majors

As a astronomy major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Astronomy & Astrophysics Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with astronomy:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Astronomers 10.0% $105,680
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors 9.9% $90,860
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Physicists 14.5% $120,950
Physics Postsecondary Professors 10.2% $90,800

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics?

684 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
35% Percent Women
25% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 683 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics in 2018, making it rank #179 in popularity. This major attracts more men than women. About 65% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Astronomy Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 46
Black or African American 10
Hispanic or Latino 75
White 444
International Students 52
Other Races/Ethnicities 57

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Astronomy, too. About 7.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Canada

How Much Do Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics made a median starting salary of $27,700 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $27,700 (25th percentile) and $27,700 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a astronomy degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Astronomy majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $103,830 to $125,280 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Astronomy & Astrophysics Major  ( 103830 to 125280 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

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 schooling 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.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.2%
Some College Courses 0.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 0.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 9.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.6%
Master’s Degree 25.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.9%
Doctoral Degree 35.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 26.8%

Online Astronomy & Astrophysics Programs

In 2017-2018, 131 schools offered a astronomy program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 2 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 1 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 18 1
Bachelor’s Degree 0 0
Post-Baccalaureate 2 0
Master’s Degree 50 0
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 48 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics Worth It?

The median salary for a astronomy grad is $111,090 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 178% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,423,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to astronomy.

Major Number of Grads
Chemistry 22,389
Physics 13,815
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,816
General Physical Sciences 4,387
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,188
Materials Sciences 598
Other Physical Science 513

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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