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Distance Learning Graduate Courses in Astronomy

Online graduate courses in astronomy can be difficult to find, in part because astronomers often use high-tech equipment. Students interested in online astronomy courses can choose from graduate courses for K-12 science teachers or undergraduate, introductory astronomy classes.

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Online Astronomy Graduate Courses

The following are some online courses in astronomy commonly offered by colleges and universities.

  • Teaching Astrobiology Course: This course is aimed at teachers who hold a bachelor's degree and teach middle school or high school science. Coursework explores the universe, including its origin and evolution. Students examine the development of life on Earth by studying specific ecosystems, such as those in Yellowstone National Park and Antarctica; they also study the methods used by scientists looking for signs of life on other planets.
  • Understanding the Solar System Course: Also designed for working teachers, this graduate course covers the worlds that make up Earth's solar system. Students learn how these worlds, which include planets, asteroids and moons, interact. Much of this course focuses on applying these concepts in K-12 education.
  • Origins of the Universe Course: Aimed at teachers with some undergraduate physics or astronomy experience, this course covers the Big Bang theory, galaxy formation and space exploration. Students analyze the National Science Education Standards and discuss ways to teach astronomy concepts to students.
  • Introductory Astronomy Course: Introductory astronomy courses are often offered in a hybrid format rather than fully online because students may need university equipment, such as telescopes, for lab assignments. This course is aimed at undergraduates and taken by astronomy majors or students looking to fill a general education requirement. Lessons cover the solar system, telescopes, black holes and the sun. Students participate in class discussions through online forums.
  • Understanding Space Exploration Course: This course focuses on the scientific missions of NASA and other space exploration companies, and provides students with the contextual knowledge and scientific explanations to understand the purpose and resulting discoveries of these missions.
  • Galaxies Course: In this course, students will learn about the structure and formation of galaxies in the universe. Properties of galaxies will be covered, along with relative scales, physical processes, dark matter, and galaxy bias.
  • Exoplanets Course: This course is designed to teach students how planets are formed. The atmospheres of exoplanets and how they're analyzed will also be assessed, in addition to a comparison between our solar system and other planetary systems.

Program Information

Astronomers often use highly specialized equipment, like advanced telescopes and infrared cameras. As a result, most upper-level astronomy classes are not offered in a distance-learning format. Students interested in earning a graduate degree in astronomy typically apply to research universities and study on campus. However, standalone graduate courses in astronomy are available to current teachers looking to expand their understanding of astronomy and science education. Introductory astronomy, which many undergraduate students take to satisfy general education requirements, is also available online. Graduates of master's and doctoral degree programs in astronomy can become scientists or professors.

Online graduate courses in astronomy are offered through master's and doctoral degree programs. Course topics include the origins of the universe, the solar system, and space exploration.

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