University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Graduation and Careers

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics

Senior Thesis

At least 3 credits of Senior Thesis (Ast 4994) is required for graduation. This course is intended primarily to ensure that each student has a research experience with a faculty member. Design your Senior Thesis to enhance the degree emphasis you have chosen. A suggested path for this process is as follows:

[top]Career Options

The Astrophysics degree program at the University of Minnesota is designed to prepare students for careers in several very broad areas. The four most common of these are graduate school, industry, secondary education, and ROTC:

[top]Graduate School

Admission to graduate school in astronomy is a highly competitive and selective process. Only the best students across the US are likely to be admitted. Students planning to attend graduate school must carefully prepare for the process. Three factors have the major influence on admission to graduate school. They have roughly equal weight. These are:


The number of different paths a student can take when leaving the University and entering the job market directly is almost equal to the number of majors that have graduated. The job market for technically trained people is fickle at best. You may be just what the market was looking for at graduation time, and you may not. It is impossible to tell. It is unlikely you will find jobs advertised specifically for people with a Bachelor's Degree in Astrophysics, although this has happened. A few tips picked up from former students who are now in industry are:

[top]Secondary Education

A job as a junior or senior high school teacher in the physical sciences will require entering a secondary education program at either the University of Minnesota or some other accredited university or college. By the beginning of the Junior year you should visit the Education Department at the U and find out the requirements for entering their program upon completion of your Astrophysics degree. These requirements are possibly more stringent than those for similar programs at other institutions, so it is a safe bet that if you meet the U's requirements, you can meet most others.

It is vital that you have all of your preparatory work completed as an undergraduate. Of particular importance is in-class experience. This should be completed by the Fall of your Senior year, preferably earlier if possible. Job prospects outside of the Twin Cities Metro area for secondary teachers in the physical sciences are very good. Within the Metro, the market is much tighter. You may have a slight advantage with a Bachelor's in Astrophysics as opposed to Physics because high school supervisors know students are very interested in Astronomy.


The ROTC program here at the University of Minnesota maintains intense scrutiny of your academic program. Their basic demand (as far as the Astronomy program is concerned) is that you meet the requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Astrophysics. Beyond that, most of the requirements will be made clear by the ROTC program officer for your individual branch of service. If you complete the Astrophysics degree program and meet all of the requirements of the ROTC program, your prospects for a military career are excellent.