Minor In Planetary Science

This minor will provide students with a broad understanding of the application of the methods of astronomy and geology to the study of the Solar System, and develop the students' appreciation of how issues in the study of planets connect with larger issues in those sciences. It is intended for all students with an interest in the study of the Solar System, be it professional or avocational. In addition to Astronomy and Geology majors, we expect it especially to dovetail with the professional goals of Environmental Science and Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Sciences, and Secondary Education majors.

Administered jointly with the Department of Astronomy.

Minor Requirements (19-22 credits):


  • One of the following:
    • ASTR100 Introduction to Astronomy (3)
    • ASTR101 General Astronomy (4)
    • ASTR120 Introductory Astrophysics - Solar System (3)
  • One of the following:
    • GEOL 100/110 Physical Geology/Physical Geology Lab (4)
    • GEOL 120/110 Environmental Geology/Physical Geology Lab (4)
  • One of the following:
    • ASTR330 Solar System Astronomy (3)
    • ASTR430 The Solar System (3)
    • GEOL212 Planetary Geology (3)

Plus three electives from the following. At least one choice must be from Geology and one from Astronomy. At least six credits from the list below and nine credits overall must be at the 300 - 400 level:

  • ASTR220 Collisions in Space (3)
  • ASTR230 The Science and Fiction of Planetary Systems (3)
  • ASTR380 Life in the Universe - Astrobiology (3)
  • ASTR498 Special Problems in Astronomy (3)
  • GEOL322 Mineralogy (4)
  • GEOL340 Geomorphology (4)
  • GEOL412 Geology of Terrestrial Planets (3)
  • GEOL437 Global Climate Change, Past and Present (3)
  • GEOL 499 Special Problems in Geology (3)
  • Or another appropriate astronomy or geology course approved in advance by the Astronomy or Geology advisor (3-4)

No course with an earned grade below "C-" may count toward a minor. A student may use a maximum of six credits (two courses) to satisfy the requirements of both a major and minor. No more than two of the requirements may be taken at an institution other than the University of Maryland, College Park. At least six upper division credits applied to the minor must be taken at this university.

Procedure for Earning the Planetary Science Minor:

  • Make an appointment with either the Astronomy or Geology Minor Advisor in order to fill out the required paperwork for the minor BEFORE YOUR FINAL 30 CREDITS ARE ATTEMPTED (i.e. before your senior year).
  • Complete all course work with a grade of C or better.
  • Any revisions to your program must be approved by the Astronomy or Geology Minor Advisor.
  • Receive recognition on your transcript after graduation.

Astronomy and Geology Minor Advisors

Grace Deming (Astronomy)

John Merck (Geology)

Prerequisites for Courses

A student could complete the minor without having to take any prerequisite course not on the list of required courses. Depending on the choice of optional courses, a student may have to take additional courses as prerequisites. The courses with prerequisites are listed below:

  • ASTR 120 (MATH 115)
  • ASTR 430 (ASTR 120 & 121, PHYS 171, 272, & 273 or engineering physics, MATH 140, 141, 241, 246)
  • GEOL 322 (GEOL 100 or 120, GEOL 110, CHEM 131 & 132 or CHEM 135 & 136 or CHEM 103)
  • GEOL 340 (GEOL 100 or 120, and GEOL 110)
  • GEOL 437 (GEOL100 or 120, MATH 115 & 140, CHEM 131 & 132 or CHEM 135 & 136 or CHEM 103)

ASTR 498 and GEOL 499 require permission by the department offering the course. In general you will need to have a member of the faculty willing to supervise a research project.

Here are two possible plans for the planetary science minor:

Planetary Science Minor
Astronomy, physics, mathematics, and other science majors Other majors
ASTR 120 ASTR 100 or ASTR 101
GEOL 100 & 110 or 120 & 110 GEOL 100 & 110 or 120 & 110
ASTR 430 ASTR 330
ASTR 380 ASTR 220
GEOL 322 ASTR 380
GEOL 437 GEOL 340