Astrophysics

Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that mixes chemistry and physics to study celestial objects, including stars, planets, and galaxies. It differs from astronomy in one key factor: on top of observing and recording, it’s also a predictive art, forming theories on the birth, death, and movements of the small to medium structures within the universe. Cosmology handles the largest structures. Astrophysics is largely only available as a field of study at the doctorate level, but there are a limited number of baccalaureate degrees. The field is considered very competitive.

Baccalaureate

While not the most commonly offered degree, there are several institutions that offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Astrophysics. The curriculum at this level will be math and science heavy, including in advanced calculus, chemistry, and physics. Programs will also typically include computer programming and computational science. In fact, alternatives for a baccalaureate that leads to a doctorate in astrophysics include computer programming, physics, chemistry, or mathematics.

Computer coding is an integral part of being an astrophysicist, so learning it early on will only be beneficial.

Master Level

A Master’s of Science in Astrophysics is typically not required to enter a doctorate program, but it can make a student more competitive. It can also further prepare for the rigors of a PhD program. The curriculum will most likely cover advanced data analysis and test research skills. There is sometimes the option to concentrate in a specific area, such as instrumentation.

Doctorate

A Phd in Astrophysics can take between 3 to 5 years to earn but puts graduates on-par with other astrophysicists. The first few years of the doctorate program will likely include some classes, usually centering around statistical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and optics. After those are completed, the majority of doctorate programs are spent on dissertation research under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

If staying in academia is the goal, and it often is for astrophysicists, a postdoctoral research appointment, or “Postdoc,” is the next step. Experience is the key factor in the astrophysics field, meaning many individuals will take on a few of these research positions, sometimes considered fellowships, until they’re prepared for an academic faculty position. Outside of academia, astrophysicists often find work in national facilities or government labs.

Create a free account to find, finance and attend the college that's right for you.

Colleges

University of California-Los Angeles

The University of California in Los Angeles, better known as UCLA, is one of 10 campuses in the UC system. With 109 academic departments and more than 125 majors offered, as well as an average of one billion dollars funded for research every year and...

“…I can definitely say that being at UCLA for about a quarter and one half has literally changed me, and my study habits. This school is competitive and tough, in no light manner. At the same time, if you work hard, the rewards are tremendous, and...” – Elizabeth from San Pedro, CA

Harvard College

Harvard College is an undergraduate liberal arts school located in Cambridge, MA, within Harvard University. Founded in 1636, this private, very selective, Ivy League college is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and was...

“…The students are great, teamwork is encouraged (I've heard from transfers that it is to a unique degree), there are a lot of ambitious people but nobody is too competitive. There are a million things to do, in terms of academics, extracurriculars,...” – Current Sophomore

University of California-Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California at Berkeley is the original member of UC System with a campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay. UC Berkeley is known for its liberal student activism, most notably The Free Speech Movement student...

“…Berkeley is a great school chock full of award-winning, book-publishing, enthusiastic professors who really know their stuff. If you take classes you're really interested in, you'll learn more. Don't forget about office hours, tutoring sessions, and...” – Karina from Los Angeles, CA

Yale University

Yale University is a large research institution chartered in 1701, making it the third-oldest institution of higher education in the US. On top of the numerous academic undergrad degrees at Yale College, students also have access to Multidisciplinary...

“…Yale's plethora of books, resources, and cafe's is what attracts students and staff the world wide to study and teach in this revered university. Nestled in the heart of New Haven, Connecticut, Yale brings with its prestige an old time charm and a...” – Pastor Clearance of Monuckabee, UT

Columbia University in the City of New York

Founded in 1754, Columbia University is a private research university located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The urban Ivy League campus houses 17 libraries and 20 schools, which offer upwards of 350 majors, as well as the Cathedral of St. John...

“…The amount of learning that takes place in one semester at Columbia is truly amazing. I have learned more in such a short period of time than I would have ever thought possible. As much as we may all complain about how extensive the Core Curriculum...” – Nina from Baldwin, NY

Arizona State University-Tempe

Arizona State University, located in Tempe, Arizona, is a large public university founded in 1886, making it the first higher education institution in the state. ASU also has campuses in downtown Phoenix, in Glendale, a Polytechnic in Mesa, in Lake...

“…Arizona State is a rigorous state school that can provide many opportunities to those who know where to look. The school is expensive, but provides many unique services to the students. If one is willing to put in the work, ASU is a great place to be...” – Joseph from Henderson, NV

Princeton University

Founded in 1746, Princeton University is a private, highly selective, Ivy League, the fourth oldest higher education institution in the nation, and one of the original nine colonial colleges. Princeton features a liberal arts education in the...

“…Princeton was my life dream, two months in I have no doubt I made the right choice. I have met so many unique, passionate, and amazing people. My classes are very challenging, but engaging and fun.” – 2016 Tiger

Michigan State University

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University is a large public research institution in East Lansing, Michigan, and a multicultural student population representing more than 140 countries. MSU is home to more than 200 areas of study through 17 degree...

“…The sectioned off campus is amazing since you don't have to interact with any non-students or faculty. There are plenty of activities on campus through our University Activities Board, which is a great experience for all incoming students. And It is...” – Evan from East Lansing, MI

Baylor University

Founded in 1845 by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baylor University is a 4-year Christian institution and the oldest continuously-operating university in Texas. Baylor offers bachelor’s degrees in 128 academic fields of study. As a...

“…The academic quality here at Baylor is superb. The classes are interesting and the professors work to stimulate your thinking; of course, like all colleges there are professors and classes here that are less-than-worthy of even considering taking,...” – Robert from CC, TX

Ohio University-Main Campus

The first university chartered by an Act of Congress, Ohio University is a public research institution in southeast Ohio. The Ohio campus hosts nine colleges conferring degrees in over 250 undergraduate and graduate-level fields of study as well as...

“…It's tough, but not that bad. The Honors Tutorial College is demanding, requiring students to keep above a 3.5 GPA. Having good writing skills is essential to succeeding at Ohio University. ” – Alexander from Traverse City, MI

Rice University

Originally founded as the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art, Rice University is a 4-year private institution in Houston. Rice encompasses six colleges and schools conferring undergraduate degrees in over...

“…The people--students, professors, staff--are kind and open, establishing a great atmosphere to make friends, have fun, and of course, learn. Academics are difficult as expected, but the help that is accessible to you really does get you through the...” – Rachel from Oklahoma City, OK

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Rutgers University is a public research university, one of the first nine original colonial colleges, and a land grant institution, as well. The largest university in New Jersey, Rutgers maintains 29 schools and colleges between its three campuses...

“…Definitely. You will learn even if you sleep, not just academically, responsibility wise as well. Keep on top of things and sign up for as many possible programs to aid in your transition to college as possible. Make the load that is bound to come,...” – Naomi from Newark, NJ

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

Founded in 1919, the University of Cincinnati is a 4-year public research institution and the second largest university in the state of Ohio. UC is home to 14 colleges and schools conferring degrees and is renowned as the first school to offer a co...

“…I was delighted to find that most of the professors at UC really know their stuff and they are willing to help if you don't understand them on the first go. However, it certainly is useful to ask around about potential professors. I had a Chemistry...” – Nathan from Edgewood, KY

Iowa State University

Iowa State University is a public, land-grant university located in Ames, IA. The 1,813-acre campus features 6 undergraduate colleges offering 100+ majors, as well as residence hall, apartment-style, and Greek-life housing options for more than 35...

“…Iowa State has a beautiful campus during all seasons. The professors are all super helpful and encouraging. There is always something to do on campus.” – Emily from Maplewood, MN

University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and ranks #90 in National Universities by the U.S. News & World Report. They offer Residential Academic Programs (RAPs), multiple honors programs, and an Education...

“…There are classes ranging from several hundred students to just a handful. It is easy to contact teachers and have them help you in the courtesy of their own office. There are also help rooms for several of the math and science classes where you...” – John from Arvada, CO

Tufts University

Tufts University is a 4-year private institution with three campuses in the Boston area. Tufts is home to 12 colleges and schools conferring bachelor’s degrees in over 90 academic majors and minors. The school is known for their popular a capella...

“…Tufts is certainly a place that fosters discussion. Though it's about as homogeneous as you'd expect a small, northeastern american university to be, its minority groups and their opinions are well-respected and represented, and Tufts students are,...” – John from Somerville, MA

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is a research institution located in Pittsburgh, PA. Founded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie in 1900, CMU is labeled the #24 University in the World by Times Higher Education and has been rated #25 in National Universities...

“…The amount of things you learn throughout your classes is amazing to me. Just this past 2 weeks, I've learned so many things about programming that it has made a noticeable change in how I approach problems.” – Mathew from Jensen Beach, FL

United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy is located in West Point, NY, with a "mission to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets for a career of professional excellence and sevice to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army." West Point...

“…the best military and leadership education you can get...” – Josiah from O'Fallon, IL

University of Wisconsin-Madison

From its main campus located atop a hilltop in Wisconsin’s state capital, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a 4-year public institution and the flagship campus of the UW system. Founded in 1848 at the same time that Wisconsin achieved statehood,...

“…I went into the University of Wisconsin overtly confident that I was going to breeze through and be on my way to UCLA medical school. This university has challenged me more than I ever would have expected. Almost in every major offered Madison...” – Katie from Madison, WI

University of California-Santa Cruz

Founded in 1965, the University of California-Santa Cruz is a public institution and part of the University of California System. UCSC offers undergraduate degrees in 65 academic majors within departments of Arts, Humanities, Physical Sciences,...

“…UCSC is an excellent school with many professors at the top of their fields. Many of our undergraduate programs are top in the country (or were, before the budget crisis), and I believe that UCSC is greatly underrated as an awesome undergraduate...” – Megan the Banana Slug

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a 4-year public institution in central Oklahoma. OU offers bachelor’s degrees in 170 academic fields of study. In addition to classroom space, the OU campus hosts the National Weather Center featuring a...

“…Most of my professors at OU have been very good and actually care about their students. No one will hold your hand through college, but they definitely encourage independent thinking and hard work. OU emphasizes a liberal arts education, so they...” – Kathryn from Norman, OK

Lehigh University

Founded by a local industrialist and philanthropist, Lehigh University is a 4-year private school in eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Lehigh is home to colleges of Business, Engineering, Arts & Sciences, Health, and Education granting...

“…Lehigh is a beautiful campus with welcoming people but more importantly, a great academic climate. Classes are challanging and exams are difficult but we always have the greatest support from every staf member and faculty. The rigorous classes result...” – Era from Philadelphia, PA

Colgate University

Established in 1819, Colgate University is a selective 4-year private liberal arts institution in central New York State and one of the oldest universities in the northeast. Colgate confers bachelor’s degrees in 56 academic majors and the campus is...

“…Colgate University is a liberal arts university where you can take classes and explore your interests in any variety of fields. While you may feel forced into the required courses, the five CORE subjects allow you to expand your horizons and gain a...” – Allison

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa is a 4-year public university on the island of O’ahu and the flagship campus of the UH System. The largest and oldest of the Hawai’i campuses, UH Manoa confers bachelor’s degrees in 100 academic majors. Additionally...

“…the campus is so nice. the dorms are very clean and renovated, as are the classrooms. i love that the classes have a range of the number of students there are in a class. ” – rachael-ashlyn from issaquah, wa

Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University is a Tier 1 University with higher research activity and rated as having a more selective admissions process. The TCU mission is "to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the...

“…TCU is a place to meet students and staff who really care about you. There is a spot on campus for everyone, and so many different amazing communities to get connected with. In short, it's the perfect college experience!” – Elise

Williams College

Founded with funding from the estate of a Massachusetts Bay colonist, Williams College is a liberal arts institution in northwest Massachusetts. Williams is home to three divisions of Mathematics & Science, Languages, and Social Sciences conferring...

“…Outside the nurturing and exceptional education provided in class, the entire student and staff population of Williams has taught me so many lessons in my short time being here.” – Anna from Chester, VA

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology is a 4-year private university of technology, arts, and design in northwest New York State. RIT is home to 11 colleges and schools conferring undergraduate degrees. Additionally, RIT offers a co-op program that...

“…I am an art major and I was intimidated when I started here. I didn't have experience in all medias and I was afraid that it would leave me behind, but the teachers understand and are willing to take time out of their schedule to help me better...” – Jessica from Lockport, NY

University of New Mexico-Main Campus

Located near old Route 66 in Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico is New Mexico’s flagship public university. UNM is home to 12 colleges conferring bachelor’s degrees in 94 academic programs and its Health Sciences Center is New Mexico’s largest...

“…The University of New Mexico is a great university; it is very diverse. I guarantee that you will find yourself immersed in different cultures. The people here are amazing, I'm currently doing work-study here at the university and I love it. The...” – Lizzet from Albuquerque, NM

Illinois Institute of Technology

Created by the merger of Lewis Institute and Armour Institute, The Illinois Institute of Technology is a scientific and technical research institution in Chicago. IIT hosts eight colleges and schools conferring undergraduate degrees in over 40 fields...

“…Students that attend IIT go to study and become future leaders, not to fool around or party. I am currently learning so much from the architecture program. The professors are practicing architects and although I just ended my first semester, I feel...” – Christian from Elgin, IL

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology is a 4-year private science and engineering university in Pasadena. Caltech confers undergraduate degrees in 28 scientific fields of study. In addition to classroom space, Caltech is home to several research...

“…You will learn more than you thought was possible. Sometimes it will seem impossible. It isn't.” – Kimberly from Bloomington, IL

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania that was founded in 1864. The college was founded by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and its "most selective" admissions process is also need-blind. The 425-acre...

“…Workload is rigorous, but at the end of the day you'll learn so much. Most importantly are the students and the professors who make you feel welcome in every way. And lastly the campus is an arboretum so it is 10/10 beautiful!” – N from Louisville, KY

Wellesley College

Founded in 1870, Wellesley College is a 4-year liberal arts college for women in eastern Massachusetts as well as a member of the Seven Sisters Colleges and Three-College Alliance. Wellesley confers undergraduate degrees in over 50 departmental and...

“…Wellesley is a well-rounded, diverse, open school: the students are pushed to work their hardest, achieve their goals and be amongst the best of the best. Wellesley prepares each of its students to be a leader, one who is able to work successfully...” – Anonymous from Miami, FL

Barnard College

Founded in response to neighboring Columbia University’s all-male admission policy, Barnard College is one of the oldest women’s colleges in the United States and a member of the Seven Sisters colleges. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Barnard...

“…Simply put, I love Barnard and truly almost everyone I know does as well. I have never felt more independent, challenged, or excited as I do living in New York City and taking classes at Columbia. And because of Barnard, I also feel empowered as a...” – Barnard_2014

Colby College

Founded in 1813, Colby College is a 4-year institution in Waterville, Maine, that serves only undergraduates. The test-optional school promises to meet 100% of demonstrated need through the Colby Commitment so that “the most talented students from...

“…colby perfectly encompasses the liberal arts with plenty of research and internship opportunities. the campus, people, and staff/faculty are all truly beautiful on the inside and out. people are constantly looking out for you, while still keeping a...” – Bridget from Eliot, ME

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

With campuses three miles apart, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the flagship campus with locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota confers bachelor’s degrees in more than 150 academic majors and minors. In addition, the U of M is...

“…I am currently enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and I love how the College is designed that you explore other opportunities than just your major. I am allowed to take courses I find interesting and I am not forced to stick to only Sciences and...” – Samantha from Ewa Beach, HI

Haverford College

Haverford College is a 4-year liberal arts college in the Philadelphia metro area. Founded in 1833 as a Quaker school, Haverford now grants bachelor’s degrees in 29 academic majors and all degrees culminate in a senior thesis research project. With a...

“…Haverford College is giving me the well rounded education that I was looking for when first applying to colleges. To me, the most notable aspects about Haverford are the small class sizes that create a more intimate learning environment and the more...” – Sofie from the U.S.

Whitman College

Located in Walla Walla, Washington, Whitman College is a liberal arts institution chartered in 1883. Today, the Whitman’s residential campus offers more than 35 departments and programs, houses its student body, and doubles as both an outdoor art...

“…Students simply love to be here. The passion for what they're doing inside and out of the classroom is contagious. It is a truly unique feeling on campus.” – Rebecca from Seattle, WA

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Originally founded as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a public school and flagship campus of the U of A System. The oldest institution of higher-learning in the state, UAF is home to nine...

“…Yes, I learned a great deal while attending UAF. Sadly, I really only got into the swing of things in my last couple years. This is not to say that I slacked off during the first years, I merely mean that I did not start directing my own education...” – Gavin from Fairbanks, AK

Ohio Wesleyan University

Established by a local pastor in a former hotel, Ohio Wesleyan University is a liberal arts college in mid-Ohio. OWU confers bachelor’s degrees in over 90 fields of study and more than a quarter of the student body chooses to double major. Throughout...

“…Although it has a 66% acceptance rate, the classes are far from easy. Class sizes usually fall between 6 and 30 so participation is a must. Professors are fully invested in the enrichment of the students, so as students, we are expected to be focused...” – Jen from Spring, TX

Franklin and Marshall College

Founded in 1787 thanks to a donation from Benjamin Franklin, Franklin & Marshall College is a 4-year liberal arts college in southeast Pennsylvania. Franklin & Marshall grants undergraduate degrees in 60 academic fields of study. For students who...

“…I am ABSOLUTELY amazed at how much I have learned at F&M! ” – Tram-Anh from New Holland, PA

Agnes Scott College

Agnes Scott College is a private all-female institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The campus is located in Decatur, Georgia, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Agnes Scott has been called one of the “Seven...

“…The first-year seminars are very informative. I never thought I would look at food this way. There are a lot of different FYS topics offered for first-years in order to expand the way we think and promote the way we write. The wide range of classes...” – Kimberly from Marietta, GA

Bennington College

Bennington College is a private liberal arts institution located in the rural town of Bennington, Vermont. It is a nonsectarian institution with a “selective” admissions process. All students must complete an annual 7-week internship through the...

“…I recently had a tour at Bennington College and I also attended an information session. The impression I got was that Bennington College offers students an amazing education for several reasons: 1. Students learn what they want to learn: Students...” – A high school senior from northern VT

Founded in 1812, Lycoming College is a private, liberal arts institution established in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In order to graduate, each student is required to fulfill an Enhanced Academic Experience, which can consist of a cooperative program,...

“…The faculty at Lycoming College really want you to learn and to succeed in class. They are all open to questions and are willing to do whatever it takes to help you.” – Jonath from Mifflinburg, PA