What is Astronomy?

In this major, you’ll study the celestial objects—stars, planets, moons, comets, nebulae, galaxies, and galaxy clusters—and the determination of their positions and motions. More broadly, Astronomy is the study of physics, chemistry, and the evolution of the universe and everything in it. As an Astronomy student, you’ll gain analytical skills, becoming particularly adept in drawing conclusions from data. Because of Astronomy’s close relationship with physics, you’ll also learn how to apply the principles and methods of physics to understanding the universe. Finally, our department provides many opportunities for you to be involved in faculty research projects. In fact, Illinois undergraduates have written observing proposals to the Hubble Space Telescope, presented research at scientific conferences, and had papers published in professional astronomy journals.

Career Options

  • Aerospace
  • Government research
  • Higher education
  • Laboratory science
  • Observatory science
  • Planetarium work
  • Museum work

Post-Graduation Success1

82% employed or continuing education

37% employed after graduation

44% attending graduate school

1% volunteering

$68,939 average starting annual income

Sample employer destinations: Epic Systems, Generac Power Systems, Department of Veterans Affairs

Sample grad school destinations: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington - Seattle, University of Rochester

Academic Profile Middle 50% 2

28 - 32 ACT Score

1300 - 1460 SAT Score

3.35 - 3.88 High School GPA

Annual Program Costs

Illinois Resident

  • Tuition: $12,036
  • Fees: $4,174
  • Expenses3: $15,180
  • Total: $31,390


  • Tuition: $29,178
  • Fees: $4,174
  • Expenses3: $15,520
  • Total: $48,872


  • Tuition: $31,552
  • Fees: $4,174
  • Expenses3: $15,520
  • Total: $51,246