Astronomy Program


About the Astronomy Program

Get Started on the Path Toward a 4-year Degree in Astronomy

Astronomers study the solar system, stars, galaxies, and space using principles of physics and mathematics. Their work adds to the basic scientific knowledge about the nature of the Universe. Astronomers study planets, stars, novas, and colliding gases between stars in an attempt to determine how they were formed, what they are made of, and how they change. This field of science also leads to a better understanding of the Earth and its ecosystem.

Program Level Outcomes

Upon completion of the Astronomy Courses, students will be able to explain:

  1. Key principles of astronomy, using applicable vocabulary, including employing the scientific method to organize, prioritize, and problem-solve.
  2. How and where the human species fits into the immense, complex, and ever-changing universe.

Astronomy Courses

All classes meet IGETC and GE transfer requirements. Courses are not sequential; there are no prerequisites unless indicated.

  • Astronomy 1: Stellar Astronomy
  • Astronomy 2: Planetary Astronomy
  • Astronomy 3: Stellar Astronomy with a Lab
  • Astronomy 4: Planetary Astronomy with a Lab
  • Astronomy 5: Life in the Universe
  • Astronomy 6: Archaeoastronomy
  • Astronomy 7: Cosmology
  • Astronomy 8: Introduction to Astrophysics (Prerequisite: Math 2)
  • Astronomy 9: Astrophysics with Calculus (Prerequisite: Math 8; and Physics 8 or Physics 21)
  • Astronomy 10: Exploration of the Solar System

Transfer Preparation

Many colleges and universities offer baccalaureate degrees in this field. Students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university need to know which courses completed at Santa Monica College will be accepted at the specific college/university. Please consult a Counselor. SMC has transfer articulation agreements with the many UC and CSU campuses, as well as many private and out-of-state institutions.

Program Map

Degrees and Certificates

Currently, there are no degrees or certificates offered in this discipline at Santa Monica College. Most students should plan to transfer to a four-year institution to continue their education toward a degree in this discipline. Transferring students who wish to qualify for an Associate degree before leaving Santa Monica College should discuss their plans with a Counselor before selecting classes.

Potential Career Options

Click on any job title to learn more.

Job Title Typical Education Median Wage
Astronomers Doctoral Degree $172,467
Atmospheric & Space Scientists Bachelor Degree $71,739
Aerospace Engineers Bachelor Degree $130,686
Physicists Doctoral Degree $81,016
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary Doctoral Degree $82,451

Additional career options: professor/teacher, observatory night assistant/telescope operator, director of an observatory, research scientist, director of a planetarium, curator of a museum, solar researcher, satellite communications/reconnaissance, aerospace program engineer/programmer, public outreach, park ranger, and environmental/atmospheric scientist.
(This list is by no means comprehensive.)

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