Advising/Declare the Major

Undergraduate Handbook
Advising In The Department Of Astronomy
The Department of Astronomy extends a warm welcome to you as a prospective Astronomy major.  In addition to an excellent learning environment, Astronomy majors have the chance to improve their speaking, writing and research abilities in a supportive and challenging science community involved in international research and innovation.  We look forward to joining you in your adventure at the University of Wisconsin and are excited that you are interested in majoring in astronomy. Please explore the many advising and major resources listed below.
Considering A Major In Astronomy?
For information on the astronomy major, begin your journey here: The Astronomy Undergraduate Experience. Additional sources of information on the major:
  • The Undergraduate Catalog provides information on the Department, the major, requirements for the major, additional recommended courses, and Honors in the Major
  • The Course Guide includes complete astronomy course information (semester last taught, prerequisites, level, breadth and credit type)
  • NOTE: Astronomy majors should take the required 200-level physics classes before taking the range of 300-level upper level courses. Some 500-level graduate courses are open to undergraduate enrollment with instructor consent.
Preliminary and Career Advising:
  • For major and career information, please email Eric Schueffner, the Astronomy Academic and Career Advisor, to schedule an appointment. Eric can also assist students with curriculum and course scheduling, career planning and connections, academic concerns, and overall performance and strategies.
  • Astronomy Major Handout for current and potential Astronomy Majors.
Declare The Astronomy Major:
  • Before declaring the Astronomy major, students must complete the first two of the three intro sequence physics classes: Physics 247, 248, and 249, or Physics 207, 208, and 241, or Physics 201, 202, 205. 
  • Email one of the Undergraduate Faculty Advisors, Prof. Snezana Stanimirovic (4514 Sterling Hall) or Prof. Elena D'Onghia (3504 Sterling Hall), to schedule an appointment to declare the major. Feel free to reach out to either of them if you need advising.
Honors In The Major:
Students wishing to receive Honors in the Major must satisfy the following requirements:
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.5 in all 300 or higher level courses is required for the major.
  • Completion of four 300 or higher level astronomy courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
  • Completion of a Senior Honors Thesis (Astron 681/682) with a grade of AB or better. Students wishing to pursue Honors in the Major should contact the undergraduate advisor to seek guidance about planning the best possible Honors in the Major curriculum that reflects their special interests.
  • Complete the Honors In The Major Form and obtain signatures from the Astronomy Faculty Advisor.
  • Note:  Astronomy Department Honors in the Major students are not required to be in the L&S Honors Program.
Can An Engineering Student Earn An Additional Major In Astronomy?
An undergraduate in the College of Engineering who has filled out the Astronomy Major Declaration Form is required to take a copy of the form to the College of Engineering Dean’s Office to obtain formal approval to add a major in L&S. Once approval has been granted by the Dean’s Office, the major will appear on the DARS report.


Opportunities To Expand Your Skills and Interests:
  • Research: Our Department has opportunities for undergraduates to hold paid research positions, write a senior thesis, or take a 699 Directed Study course. To get involved in research projects, view our faculty areas of interest to identify a specific faculty member or area of research that interests you. Contact the Undergraduate Faculty Advisor, who will then assist you in finding a faculty member to work or study with.
  • Present Research at UW Undergraduate Symposium or the AAS.
  • Tutoring: Requests for tutors from students taking our introductory courses are common. Stipends, etc. are negotiated directly between the tutor and the student.
  • Summer REU: Summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) opportunities are funded by the NSF. Sites are located here and abroad.
  • Astronomy Department Workshops and Events: Throughout the academic year the Department hosts an open house, seminars on applying to graduate school or REU programs, and other academic and career events. 
  • Astronomy Colloquium: The Astronomy Colloquia on Thursday at 3:45 PM in 4422 Sterling is highly recommended for our undergraduate majors. The event begins at 3:30 with a social period, allowing you to meet and converse with faculty and graduate students. The talk is presented to a group with widely varying interests, therefore the material is conveyed in a more general fashion, with questions to the speaker encouraged. Those with astrophysical interests at all levels of experience can enjoy an informative and supportive interaction in an environment of academic inquiry. 
  • Informative Emails: Emails are sent to our majors during the year informing them of REU, PhD and summer school programs and deadlines, paid grader and tutor positions, Stem Fairs, internships, research opportunities, science writing contests, Cool Science Image Contests, AAS Poster Deadlines, and more.
  • Undergraduate Bulletin Board: The undergraduate bulletin board is on the 3rd floor of Sterling. Check it regularly for information on free software training, graduate school and REU opportunities, paid tutoring positions, and more.
  • Undergraduate Lounge: Stop in at the Undergrad Lounge in 3527 Sterling to study with other majors, or just visit.
  • The Astronomy Club: Get involved: organize and host movies, talks, study groups, or anything you think is of interest.
  • Free Software Training is available for UW students. Learn Linux in a day, Python, LaTeX, PHP & SQL, JavaScript, PowerPoint, Keynote and other skills that will be useful for a research course or a research job. Stuck on a technology-related project? Get help with Ask A Trainer. Need help now? has online technology training.
  • Attend UW Career Fairs: Attend L&S Career Services Career and Internship Fairs to network and practice interview skills.  Preparatory readings include Career Fairs: Preparing for, Navigating and Follow-Up, Guide to Interviewing, and Guide to Informational Interviewing.
UW-Madison Astronomy Home