Astronomy Education

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, but one in which new discoveries are made almost daily. With nothing more than light collected by state-of-the-art telescopes, scientists can measure temperatures, compositions, velocities, and sizes. Combine this information with the laws of physics and chemistry, and it’s possible to figure out what powers the Sun, find thousands of worlds around other stars, and even look back to the dawn of the Universe.

“Our faculty have trained a total of 138 astronomy PhDs and 33 Masters students over 43 years. Almost all of these students have moved into science and technology professions.  Many stayed in astronomy as researchers and educators and some have become prominent leaders in our field.   Whenever I run into alumni, they often recount fond memories of the Islands and the influence the Institute had on them.”   —  Jonathan Williams.

IfA’s graduate students in 1975 and 2017

The University of Hawai‘i also offers both Astronomy (BA) and Astrophysics (BS) degrees that equip students with analysis, reasoning, programming, and communication skills.

The Astrophysics undergraduate degree is designed primarily for students who plan to continue to graduate research, Students learn about the key physics governing the Universe, and how to carry out and analyze astronomical observations using the 2.2-meter telescope at Mauna Kea.
The Astronomy undergraduate program is a more flexible degree designed for students interested in astronomy but with a streamlined physics core. Students choosing the BA program might want to become science teachers, observatory support technicians, or design astronomical equipment or software. It is a good choice for science writers, journalists, or data scientists when combined with another academic discipline.

The combined undergraduate programs attract about 50 percent of their students from within the state.

“Students come to explore the Universe from Paradise, but find that with every new discovery, they learn more about themselves.”   —   Geoffrey Mathews