Multiple Majors/Minors

Why double major at all?

The way you choose to combine majors and minors depends a lot on your plans for after Berkeley. Many (but not all) astro majors are attempting to go to graduate school for astro, and this drives their majoring decisions (and the bias of the schedules given on this site). Additionally, the astro major, as designed by the department, is very light on classes. If you read the major information provided by the department, you’ll see that they recommend pairing astro with another major. In the list below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the common double majors, or major/minor pairings, that students in astro can take. Be sure to talk to your advisor in astro and your other intended major (if you choose to double) about your plans after college, and what you are trying to accomplish with your degrees. They can often help you choose the majors most suited to accomplishing your goals.

The astro major itself is light on classes, requiring two upper division classes (choose from Astro 160, C161, and C162), and one upper division lab (Astro 120, 121, 128). There are two recommended lower division classes as well. For a more comprehensive look at the major, check out the Curriculum page, which has detailed information on the classes themselves, scheduling, professors, etc.

Physics

This is the most common pairing among astro majors. There are a few reasons for this. First, it’s efficient. By this we mean that when looking at the required classes for the astro major… there’s a lot of physics in there. To complete the astro major itself, you will take Physics 7ABC and 112 at minimum, and perhaps more if you also complete recommended prerequisites. Moreover, astronomy graduate schools tend to prefer candidates who have broad physics backgrounds. (Perhaps partially because many astro programs are within physics departments, and because broad physics backgrounds are in fact useful). There are downsides, however, especially the infamous 111 labs (which are extremely time-consuming, and not often of huge interest to astro students). You could also minor in physics by simply taking the theory classes, as discussed below. For information on both the major and minor, click here to access the physics department resources.

Mathematics

This is probably the second most common double major. Again, there is an efficiency case; the astro major will require you to take Math 1A/1B/53/54. While there are no upper divs technically required, having done these four puts you well on your way towards a math major as well, so many students choose to continue with math and astro in tandem. Grad schools also like this, because a broad math background is very useful, and you’ve taken most all the classes in physics anyway. Also, you have the option of doubling in astro and math, and minoring in physics. This gets you out of the 111 labs, and acknowledges further the fact that astro required you to take quite a bit of physics. For more, see the subsection for the minor below. To see the requirements for a math major (or minor), click here.

Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS)

The Earth and Planetary Sciences Department hosts a number of majors that can be paired with Astro, depending on the specific field you may be interested in. For more information about specific course and unit requirements please refer to the EPS majors page or visit Nadine Spingola-Hutton, the Student Services Advisor, at 305 McCone Hall, (510) 643-4068 or nspingola@berkeley.edu.

Interested in current research in EPS? Drop into a seminar! Schedule

Planetary Science

Planetary science encompasses the study of the physical and chemical nature of planetary bodies, both in the Solar System and in extrasolar systems. The formation of planets, the forces that sculpted their orbits, the processes that shaped their interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres, and the development of life all fall under its rubric. Understanding these complex phenomena requires knowledge of astronomy & astrophysics, earth science, meteorology, atmospheric science, space science, plasma physics, chemistry, and biology.

A Planetary Science major has been developed to study the remarkable interface between the two separate disciplines of Earth and Planetary Science and Astronomy. In EPS the student will receive more training in geology/geophysics/atmospheric sciences, while in astronomy, planetary science is studied via remote sensing (astronomy). The growing interest in this interdisciplinary field is illustrated by the activities of the Center for Integrative and Planetary Science (CIPS)

Learn more about Berkeley’s Planetary Science major program

Planetary Science Major Worksheet

Learn more about what planetary scientists (at UC Berkeley) do

Geophysics

Geophysics is an interdisciplinary approach that links the disciplines of mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry. Your study here will encompass theoretical and experimental science as well as fieldwork to study geodynamic processes and the structure of the Earth and other planets.

Learn more about Berkeley’s Geophysics major program

Plan Your Schedule! Check out this Geophysics Major worksheet

Learn about what Geophysicists do

Geology

Geology is a broad-based science covering a vast range of physical phenomena in both space and time. Through lectures, labs and field trips, you will gain both a theoretical and a practical perspective. In the required four-week advanced fieldwork (completed in summer), you will spend the entire time in the field, making observations, mapping, and interpreting a technical report that describes your findings in relation to published literature on the area.

Learn more about Berkeley’s Geology major program

Geology Major worksheet

Atmospheric Sciences

Atmospheric Science includes the physics of climate variability and climate change, changes in stratospheric ozone, coupling of atmospheric chemistry and climate, changes in the oxidation capacity of the troposphere, smog, and the impacts of atmosphere-biosphere exchange on atmospheric composition. Exploring the fundamental natural processes controlling atmospheric composition, circulation dynamics, and climate, and understanding how these processes have changed in the past and may change in the future, are among the greatest intellectual and technological challenges of our time. The Atmospheric Science track will provide you with a strong foundation in the physical sciences as well as an outstanding introduction to atmospheric dynamics and evolution, its chemistry and biogeochemistry.

Learn More about Berkeley’s Atmospheric Sciences program

Atmospheric Science Major Worksheet

Computer Science

One of the primary skills needed as an astronomer is programming. While you can pick up all the programming you need to know by taking the decals, doing the lab, and participating in research, a degree in CS can give you an even stronger base, if that interests you. Be warned, it is a highly capped and limited major, due to high current demand. From the CS Department: The L&S Computer Science program does not admit students to the major as freshmen. Instead, students intending this major are admitted as undeclared majors and must later declare the Computer Science major upon completing the technical prerequisite courses with a GPA of 3.0 or better. The department expects your GPA to be increased to 3.3 for students entering Berkeley in fall 2015.

[From the CS Website]:

At Berkeley, we construe computer science broadly to include complexity theory, the design and analysis of algorithms, machine architecture and logic design, digital devices and circuits, programming systems and languages, operating systems, computer graphics, database systems, and artificial intelligence. Our goal is to prepare students both for a possible research career and long-term technical leadership in industry. We must therefore look beyond today's technology and give students the big ideas and the learning skills that will prepare them to teach themselves about tomorrow's technology.

Learn more about Berkeley’s CS major/minor program

Calteach Minor (Science and Math Education)

Calteach is a complementary program open to Astro Majors interested in teaching. The Cal Teach Minor in Science and Math Education prepares students for a career in the modern public school classroom. With a course sequence designed to work alongside a math, science, or engineering major, the Cal Teach minor explores teaching techniques, education research, student cognition, and current issues in public education. The Cal Teach minor also prepares undergraduates for the Cal Teach Credential Program, a singular opportunity to simultaneously earn a bachelor’s degree and a California math or science teaching credential.

A message from Professor Eugene Chiang regarding CalTeach:
I wanted to leave you with an advertisement for an excellent opportunity that Berkeley offers: CalTeach, a new program that offers K-12 teaching credentials for Berkeley majors in the physical sciences:

http://calteach.berkeley.edu/

The program is designed to complement a conventional major program in science, math, or engineering. In addition to the one-semester on-site apprenticeship, there are just a few courses required to complete the credential and certification.

When I look at the state of education in the United States — from grade school through graduate school — the biggest needs I perceive are in K-12: in particular 9–12. So much math and science is being taught by people who don't have training in these subjects. I am allowed to say this, having seen, as a parent, some practices in California public schools.

I can think of no better people to address this national problem than Berkeley alumni — in particular alumni of our Astrophysics degree program. As I hope you have appreciated in Astro 7A/7B, astronomers strive to articulate the contents of the entire universe in down-to-earth terms: to make the math and science current, real, and purposeful.

College of Engineering **Application Process Required

Requirements when considering a simultaneous degree between L&S and the College of Engineering: http://engineering.berkeley.edu/academics/majors-minors/simultaneous-degrees

EECS

The Berkeley EECS major, offered through the College of Engineering (COE), combines fundamentals of computer science and electrical engineering in one major. The EECS Department offers two undergraduate programs: Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).

Learn more about Berkeley’s EECS major and minor programs

Engineering Physics

The Engineering Physics major interweaves classical and modern physics, chemistry, and mathematics with their engineering applications. Chief among the attractions of the major is its flexibility in that students have the ability to take diverse engineering, math, and science classes based on individual research goals. The solid base in physics and mathematics is augmented with a selection of engineering course options that prepare students to tackle complex problems faced by society.

Learn more about Berkeley’s Engineering Physics program

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