Astronomy Program at UM Recognized for Great Value

University of Montana astronomy students receive a hands-on education.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana recently was named one of the Top 25 Most Affordable Bachelor’s in Astronomy for 2020 by Great Value Colleges.

Great Value Colleges ranks programs by tuition, flexibility, customization within the degree program and an overall “wow” factor highlighting unique offerings and setting it apart from others.

UM’s astronomy program placed 18th for its affordability, outstanding reputation, faculty excellence and commitment to providing students with a high-quality education. Options include a bachelor’s degree in physics with a concentration in astronomy, which requires 69 degree-specific credits, and a minor in astronomy, which requires 25 to 26 program-specific credits.

“We’re happy to be recognized on this list for value and quality,” said Professor Andrew Ware, the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy chair. “UM offers a great education in astronomy at a reasonable rate in a fantastic mountain setting. We are proud of what our students, faculty and staff have accomplished.”

UM physics and astronomy faculty research space physics and observational astronomy, participate in NASA projects and more. They also are involved in the MINERVA collaboration with Harvard, Penn State, the University of Southern Queensland and UPenn to detect exoplanets around nearby stars.

The majority of students who receive a B.A. in Physics with a Concentration in Astronomy from UM go on to graduate school, including recent graduates such as Morgan Henderson ’17, a Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering sciences at CU-Boulder, Chani Nava ’15, a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at Harvard and Connor Robinson ’14, a Ph.D. student in astronomy at Boston University. Other alumni include Wendell Truax ’18, a consultant at Pomerol Partners; Russell Stanbery ’16, an electrical engineering technician at Markforged Inc.; Ron Powell ’10, a developer advocate and content producer for CircleCI; and Laura Zschaechner ’07, a fellow at the Finnish Center for Astronomy.

UM’s astronomy program also includes an on-campus Star Gazing Room and the University-operated Blue Mountain Observatory 45 minutes from campus. Visit the UM Physics and Astronomy page for more info.

UM earned high rankings on other Great Value Colleges lists, including top colleges with free speech zones, best bike friendly towns and affordable master’s degrees in anthropology and philosophy.


Contact: Andrew Ware, professor and chair, UM Department of Physics and Astronomy, 406-243-6221,