About the Astronomy Program

Get Started on the Path Towards 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

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 towards a degree in Astronomy. Transferring students in the major who wish to qualify for an Associates degree before leaving Santa Monica College should select either the General Science or Liberal Arts major. Below is more information about those optional associate degrees.

Associate in Arts Degree Icon Associate in Arts More information on the Associate in Arts

Get a foundation in general education, then gain the skills needed to excel in your desired field.

Completion of an Associate degree usually will not satisfy transfer major requirements. Meet with a counselor to develop an academic program best suited for you.

Estimated Timeline:
2+ years, 60 units

Close information and back to main content

Associate in Arts Degree - General Science Associate in Arts Degree Icon

20 units + General Education Requirements

The objectives of this program are to prepare students for upper division study in a field of science at a four‐year college and/or to earn an Associate degree.

PDF FileView Requirements Associate in Arts in General Science


Additional graduation requirements for an Associates degree from Santa Monica College are listed in the Academics section of the course catalog as well as online at www.smc.edu/articulation.

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's Degree $71,739
Aerospace Engineers Bachelor's 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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