Info for Prospective Students

Majors offered

Astronomy, BA

Physics, BS

Physics and Astronomy, BS

Enrichment opportunities


The Astronomy BA lends ittself to careers in certain kinds of law, business administration, governmental administration, technical writing, and science education.  The Physics BS prepares students to work in an industrial firm, a government laboratory or research centers, or teach at a secondary education or two-year collegiate institution. Pursue graduate level education in other fields such as engineering, applied physics, medicine, etc.  The Physics and Astronomy BS is for students with an interest in astronomy or related aspects of space science and related careers.  (See here for additional information about careers.)


Each incoming student is assigned an academic advisor within the Dietrich School’s Academic Advising Center. Students are required to meet with their advisor at least once per term before they can enroll in classes for the next term. Students are encouraged to schedule additional appointments as necessary. Students will remain with their assigned advisor until they declare a major; once a major is declared, the student will transition to a new advisor within their major department.

Our department is of moderate size compared to other departments around the country and the ratio of physics majors to professors is about 3 to 1, which means there are excellent opportunities for undergraduates to pursue substantive research opportunities under the guidance of faculty mentors. It is not uncommon for our majors to start doing research in their freshman or sophomore year and then continue until they graduate.

There are a number of outstanding and unique features that make our department a particularly attractive academic home for undergraduates, including:

  • We have a very active chapter of the Society of Physics Students, which won recognition as a national outstanding chapter in 2016-2017. We also have a chapter of the physics honors society, Sigma Pi Sigma.
  • Beyond the third semester, our classroom sizes tend to be small ranging from 5-30 students. Almost all of our classes, including the introductory courses, are taught by professors or full-time lecturers.
  • We have an excellent undergraduate lounge for our majors, which serves as a gathering place where students can study and work with their peers on assignments.
  • We have an open and collaborative environment for undergraduate research in our department. Many of our majors seek out and find research opportunities with faculty in our department, some starting as early as their freshman year. And these students are not just given busy work; many are put on projects that are important to the research goals of that lab and end up being an author on one or more publications before they graduate. During the years 2015-2018, we had 9 undergraduates as co-authors on refereed journal publications.
  • Many of our students have the opportunity to serve as Undergraduate Teaching Assistants, providing support in our introductory physics courses. Student can earn course credit for this work.
  • The STEPUP program – Searching for Transiting Exo-Planets at the University of Pittsburgh – is entirely run by undergraduates. This group uses a telescope at Allegheny Observatory to make nightly observations of stars identified by NASA’s Kepler Satellite as possible hosts of transiting planet systems. The students search for as-yet undiscovered planets around distant stars. Students from this group have co-authored two refereed papers based on their observations.

Learn more about some of the internships and scholarships that our undergraduate students can take advantage of.

Meet Award-Winning Advisor and Faculty Member Russell Clark

For more information about our department, or to schedule a visit or tour, please contact the Dietrich School's recruitment team at