Undergraduate Program in Astronomy

2.7 m control room

Astronomy Students Association at McDonald Observatory

The Department of Astronomy at UT Austin is one of the top 10 astronomy research programs in the United States. Our faculty members are among the worldwide leaders in cosmology, galaxies, stars, the interstellar medium, planets, the solar system, and instrumentation. With twenty-two active teaching faculty, seventeen research scientists, a number of research associates and postdoctoral fellows, 45 graduate and 90 undergraduate students, the department fosters a stimulating and friendly atmosphere that promotes intellectual development and diversity.

Explore Our Universe: Undergraduate Programs at The University of Texas

Brochure (pdf)

Our undergraduate students have the rare opportunity to take classes and conduct research with some of the world's top astronomers. After students complete some core courses, our faculty/research staff offer exciting research opportunities, including working with data taken by NASA's telescopes and with ground-based telescopes all over the world (including our own McDonald Observatory in West Texas), as well as projects in theoretical and computational astrophysics.

We reward excellence in our students through a Freshman Prize for Excellence and numerous merit and research awards for advanced undergraduate students including the Karl G. Henize endowed scholarship, the Board of Visitors scholarship, and the Outstanding Senior Award. We provide financial support for our students to travel to conferences and observatories, including our McDonald Observatory in West Texas, where they benefit from the world's largest telescopes, advanced instrumentation, and dark skies. (Undergraduate Awards)

The Astronomy program helps to prepare undergraduate students for further education in graduate school or/and many career paths spanning education, research, computing, government and journalism. And above all, it gives students the opportunity to join the great intellectual adventures and explorations of astronomy.

If you have questions, please contact us at:

Student Coordinator
Department of Astronomy
University of Texas at Austin
RLM 15.202AA
Austin, TX 78712

phone: (512) 471-3350
fax: (512) 471-6016
hours: M-F: 8-12, 1-5 PM

In the News

2014 Astronomy Freshman Prize for Excellence Recipients

james sullivan and patrick aleo

Patrick Aleo and James Sullivan

Two incoming students received an Astronomy Freshman Prize for Excellence this Fall. Patrick Aleo (East Lyme, CT [left]) is particularly interested in dark matter and dark energy. During his senior year of high school, he developed his own independent study course entitled “Mars Exploration” and presented the results of his research project to the science faculty. He also took advantage of his proximity to Yale University to attend lectures and shadow faculty in the astrophysics department. James Sullivan (Alexandria, VA [right]) did astrophysical work with Auroral Kilometric Radiation at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and achieved semifinalist status in the Siemens competition last year. In addition to his research pursuits, he is interested in teaching and public outreach. more..

Sae Saito Wins an Eva Stevenson Woods Endowed Presidential Scholarship

sae saito

Sae Saito

Sae Saito has won an Eva Stevenson Woods Endowed Presidential Scholarship for 2014. She is primarily interested in cosmology and has been working with Paul Shapiro and Anson D'Aloisio in the Cosmic Dawn FRI stream. The Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarships (UEPS) are among the most prestigious awards the University has to offer. Out of 2500 students who met the initial qualifications, only 351 students were nominated for these awards. more..

Mark Moore and Amanda Turbyfill Inducted into
Phi Beta Kappa

mark moore and amanda turbyfill

Mark Moore and Amanda Turbyfill

Mark Moore and Amanda Turbyfill have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest honor society in the United States. Its three Greek letters translate to "love of learning is the guide of life." Both Amanda and Mark will be graduating with honors this month.

Rebecca Larson Wins Karl G. Henize Award

rebecca larson

Rebecca Larson

The Karl G. Henize Endowed Scholarship is awarded to a junior or senior who intends to pursue a graduate career in Astronomy. Rebecca Larson has been selected as this year's recipient. Rebecca has worked with Neal Evans and Joel Green on turbulence dissipation in star forming regions. This spring and summer, she is working with Shardha Jogee on the evolution of massive galaxies as a function of environment over a gigantic comoving volume at the epoch of peak star formation history. more..

...more at In the News

Astronomy Students Association


freshman research initiative

Freshman Research Initiative

Cosmic Dawn

Exploring the Universe with White Dwarf Stars

Texas Astronomy Undergraduate Research Symposium



ASA Trip to McDonald

Explore UT

CNS Family Day