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Astronomy & Astrophysics Major

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Astronomy & Astrophysics

740 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
225 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 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 740
Master’s Degree 225
Doctor’s Degree 185
Associate’s Degree 16
Undergraduate Certificate 1
Basic Certificate 1

What Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to astronomy were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Astronomy Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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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

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

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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 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:

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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?

People with a astronomy degree often go into the following careers:

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?

740 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
37% Percent Women
28% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 740 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics in 2019, making it rank #179 in popularity. This major attracts more men than women. About 63% 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 57
Black or African American 16
Hispanic or Latino 82
White 466
International Students 56
Other Races/Ethnicities 63

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 median starting salary of students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy was $27,700 per year. These stats come from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $27,700 (25th percentile) and $27,700 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to astronomy.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $103,830 to $125,280 (25th to 75th percentile) 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, 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 degrees associated with astronomy may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for astronomy careers below.

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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 2018-2019, 151 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) 12 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 1 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 24 0
Bachelor’s Degree 0 0
Post-Baccalaureate 12 0
Master’s Degree 52 0
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 50 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 22,156
Physics 13,927
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,522
General Physical Sciences 4,527
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,072
Materials Sciences 681
Other Physical Science 503

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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