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.

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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...

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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...

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It's impossible not to learn a lot at Harvard, with such a wide range of classes taught by professors who are often experts in their field. Obviously, Harvard is known for being a prestigious research university and so the academic education...

” – Emily

University of California-Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California at Berkeley is the flagship of the University of California system of higher education, with a campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay. UC Berkeley is known for its academic excellence, student activism...

“…

The classes here are great. The professors are all the best at their field and teach with passion that is tangible. They really are geniuses. The classes taught vary from a class on just mushrooms to hip hop to harry potter to bird watching. I...

” – Berkelium from SoCal

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...

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There is such a expansive variety of classes that it seems to be the best of an all-encompassing education I think you can get almost anywhere. Of course there are less than motivating lectures or seminars, but if you find those classes that click...

” – Angela

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...

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Between the Common Core and the city of New York, it is difficult to conceive of an education more intellectually stimulating than that which Columbia provides. The Core allows students to engage with the great thinkers of the past, while New York...

” – Nathan from Cincinnati, OH

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...

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I am learning a lot- inside, as well as outside, of the classroom. You will learn something, of course, from any school you go to. ASU has a lot of great teachers and fantastic programs. It is a huge school, so it has a lot to offer. I think it is...

” – Megan from Phoenix, AZ

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...

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Princeton is an extremely welcoming school with excellent professors, students, and faculty members. I am wrapping up my first semester here, and I have had the time of my life...I really wish that time would just slow down and I could be here for...

” – A Midwestern Boy

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...

“…

As one of the eleven Big Ten schools, Michigan State's prestige includes it's wonderful learning opportunities. We have amazing professors that push academic limits beyond the class room. Although Michigan State is one of the largest universities...

” – Paulina from zeeland, 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...

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Perhaps my favorite thing about Baylor is the opportunity I have had as an honor student to have the interdisciplinary major called University Scholars. If you have high enough SAT's and enough AP classes and a good application essay, you can be...

” – Meaghan from Keller, 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...

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Pretty much all of my professors are enthusiastic about their topics. They are always looking to get their students as enthusiastic, so they make sure to keep the ball rolling fairly quickly, moving from topic to topic throughout the quarter. Don't...

” – Rebecca from Silver Spring, MD

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...

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Rice University is an all-around perfect school. The quality of life her is top notch; we have some of the happiest college students in the country. Of course, academic opportunity is well worth its cost.

” – Emily from Catasauqua, PA

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...

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Rutgers is a very diverse environment. It's large community of students provide an ideal place for personal and academic growth. It's also rich in resources available to students.

” – Tyler from Chicago, IL

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...

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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...

“…

So far the Professors I've had have really made sure the students understand the subjects and offer many review session apart from class if you're still lost. The campus is easy to get around and everyone is really friendly. There are a few...

” – Itzel from Fresno, CA

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 tons of options as far as classes and degrees go. I really feel like I'm getting a quality education and the teachers are willing to work with all the students and help them out. There are lots of opportunities to work with other students...

” – Athena from Spring Creek, NV

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...

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Tufts is a prestigious university dedicated to assuring that its students get the most out of their Tufts education. The staff is extremely helpful and willing to help students for as long as they need. Tufts is highly recommended to any senior and...

” – Kay

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...

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Carnegie Mellon University is ranked as one of the top universities in the nation. It's a small research university that gives the feel of a secluded campus while being in the city of Pittsburgh. It is very easy to get involved in clubs and...

” – Sam from Pittsburgh, PA

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...

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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...

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The best thing about a large research university like Wisconsin is the extraordinary wealth of academic and extracurricular choices. I've never been bored-there is always something I can learn or somewhere I can go. It really feels like home.

” – Hannah

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...

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My professors made sure that I not only understood the subject matter, they also made us utilize what we learned into different problems. You learn a lot about yourself when you experience a different environment.

” – S. Garcia from LA

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...

“…

The University of Oklahoma has been a great experience for me, although the campus is huge and there are thousands of students, don't assume that you'll just be a number to your professor. The professors are very friendly and supportive if you need...

” – Kacey from Wagoner, 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...

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The variety of classes offered here, along with the hard-working professors, will allow you to learn more than you ever have in high school.

” – Samantha from East Northport, NY

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...

“…

I came to Colgate with a pretty narrow idea of what I wanted to study and what I wanted out of my collegiate career. Colgate has, however, reshaped my ideas about the potential of a college education. I thought that both the core program and the...

” – Peter from Hamilton, NY

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...

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I am attending the Honors College of Engineering. Some of the subjects are hard and require a lot of effort, but the course content and teaching quality is solid.

” – Brandon from Colorado Springs, CO

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...

“…

The professors here take their jobs very seriously, and most, if not all, are always willing to help you out. They're easy to approach if you have questions or concerns, and teach their classes so that you will actually learn something. There is a...

” – Lauren from Baytown, TX

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...

“…

Williams College is a really fruitful environment where intelligence and hard work thrives. The interactions amongst students and professors breeds an environment in which ALL learn and benefit. The opportunities that this institution presents are...

” – Demarius from Calumet City, IL

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...

“…

Part of being a Software Engineering major means spending a year with Computer Science students learning the basics of computer programming. When I first came to RIT, I knew nothing about writing code but the classes challenged and taught me well and...

” – Geoff from Avon, 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...

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I have learned the waters and have experienced the best things that are expected out of college. I plan to be a graduate student here at UNM because I find that I am making steady progress here. I have not failed at anything here because the classes...

” – Bailey 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...

“…

As a student at IIT, you will be pushed to excellence. You will be given a wealth of information and expected to be able to understand and explain with great detail that knowledge. Due to this, you will learn more than you thought possible....

” – Jenelle from Chicago, 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...

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This school has a very rigorous academic curriculum that has expanded both my understanding and my appreciation for the physical sciences.

” – Mateo from Houston, TX

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...

“…

Swarthmore is known for being one of the most academically rigorous college in the country. This is true but studying what one is truly interested in and passionate about makes the heavy reading and problem sets worth while.

” – NY

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 College has a stellar academic reputation and it lives up to it. I have just completed my first year, but am already wowed by the intensity and quality of my classes at Wellesley. None of my classes have exceeded 35 people, the largest...

” – A student from Brussels, Belgium

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...

“…

Barnard is a jewel in the best city in the world. Barnard students are passionate, highly motivated, and unique individuals who are hungry to learn. With the world-class professors, resources on both Barnard and Columbia's campuses, and the magic of...

” – Chandler

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's work load is understandable for a college, and entirely reasonable. With good time management skills, it is very easy to get everything done. I am learning so much; three of my classes this semester are discussion-based and I very much enjoy...

” – Priscilla from Waterville, 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...

“…

The entire University considers hands-on research a vital part of the education process, which gives you a unique experience not found at many other institutions of higher education.

” – Seth from St. Paul, MN

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 is a fantastic academic environment. In my experience, professors really care about their subject and their students. Overall, they are incredibly approachable and always interested in helping you learn and eager to discuss issues that are...

” – female from MN

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...

“…

Learning occurs nonstop here. It's never tedious, unless you are taking a subject that absolutely bores you (I don't recommend doing that), but comes with a price. That price is the willingness to actively participate and enjoy what you're learning...

” – Ethan from Littleton, CO

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...

“…

I am a current student at UAF studying foreign languages. I am taking Russian, Spanish and French right now, and you can probably imagine how difficult it is to keep them all straight. I often hear from my Spanish teacher tell me I have a Russian...

” – Shaun from Juneau, 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...

“…

During my freshman year, I knocked out a lot of my diversity course requirements: Computer Science, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Electives, etc. I'm an English Major, so Computer Science and Mathematics were a bit tough for me. Mainly Calculus. But...

” – Veronica from Central Ohio

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...

“…

Although its just my first semester of college, you will learn so much in the first few weeks. You definitely will not waste you tuition money.

” – Kristina from Jessup, MD

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...

“…

Its a perfect school if your dedicated student. Its a perfect school for students that are interested in sciences. Its also a beautiful and very helpful campus.

” – Ashley from Decatur, 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...

“…

Its amazing what Bennington Graduates are doing with themselves, if you look for it, you'll find Benningtonites everywhere. The grandpa from Little Miss Sunshine, authors everywhere, the woman who made twilight into a movie. The love interest in Igby...

” – Jessica from Ledyard, CT

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...

“…

Lycoming College makes me, and every other student I've spoken with, feel at home. Everyone is extremely friendly. The staff go out of their way to assist the students of Lycoming in any way possible.

” – Deborah from Bristol, PA