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...

“…ucla has a great student atmosphere: it includes great school spirit, rich history, excellent academics and research programs, and a well-rounded student body. it is also situated in west la, which is a great environment in itself to explore social...” – Kevin

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...

“…Harvard is a place of innovation and discovery. It is a community of scholars, who are very intelligent, ambitious, and collaborative. The most distinctive feature of Harvard is the vibrant energy that characterizes its student body, and that drives...” – CLAUDIA from CAMBRIDGE, MA

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...

“…The environment is incredibly welcoming and you'll always find a place to fit in. It's definitely challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Personally, I adore it.” – Whitney from Berkeley, 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 is Harvard WITHOUT the snobbery, competition, and constant atmosphere of I need to do better than everyone else. The opportunities and resources are virtually unlimited and frankly quite overwhelming. The most important asset of Yale is the...” – Yalun from Walnut, CA

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...

“…Columbia University is extremely challenging and therefore extremely rewarding. It does not allow you room to be average or mediocre because it encourages excellence. CU will show you what you are made of.” – Krizia from Fort Bragg, NC

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 University is a great school. I attend the Walter Cronkite School for students of Mass Communication and Journalism and I love the experience I have gained from the college. I feel prepared for future jobs and work experience. ” – Kirsten 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...

“…Being at Princeton feels a lot like winning the lottery on a daily basis. The people are incredibly interesting and I'm being challenged like I've never been challenged before. It's a place for those who love to work hard and play hard.” – Annika from Eugene, OR

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...

“…michigan state had everything i was looking for in a university-challenging classes, all types of students, and a beautiful location to call home. as an undecided freshman, i appreciated the wide variety of available classes and majors. the 500+...” – Rachel from Ann Arbor, 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 atmosphere of Baylor is very relaxing. The people on campus are really friendly. It is easy to make friends on a campus this size.” – Chalice from Pflugerville, 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...

“…ohio university deserves a 10 out of 10! the campus and atmosphere here is remarkable. the teachers really want you to succeed and so do your peers.” – Amy from Newark, OH

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...

“…Rice is outstanding in all areas of college life, from academics, to partying, right down to the weather. I was a little hesitant to leave New York for Texas and pay a little bit more than my other college options, but honestly Rice was worth the...” – Janet from Carmel, NY

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...

“…Rutgers University-New Brunswick has been all that I expected in a University and more. It has provided me with many different opportunities such as research and volunteer opportunities to gain experience in my field of interest while attending...” – Francesca from New Brunswick, 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...

“…This campus is small enough to get to your classes in a reasonable time, but still big to find fun things to do. They have great places to eat with lots of variety. The people are all really friendly.” – Alex from Cincinnati, OH

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 is a large university with the small college feel. It has many students but everywhere I go, I see people I know, and that are in my classes. Everyone is very nice and the professors know what they are teaching.” – Grace from Vermont

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...

“…the university of colorado at boulder is a an amazing school with not only a great location but also a great academic program. boulder is a great city for any kind of person, athletic or not. with so much to offer both academically and with extra...” – Ana from Parker, 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 a phenomenal research university. it's a great community made up of interesting and friendly students and professors, and it's welcoming to students with every academic interest imaginable. you'll like it here.” – Thomas from Braintree, 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...

“…Carnegie Mellon University offers an intense four years of training and education for all its students, regardless of their major. Each and every student is immeasurably passionate about their field of study. After graduation, students come out in...” – Austin from Shaker Heights, OH

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 United States Military Academy at West Point is a great place to be if you like to have a structured and regimented way of life. You will be kept busy and will value the very little truly free time you get, but the friends you make here will last...” – Andrew from Columbus, GA

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,...

“…Uw- Madison is a fantastic school. The academics are strong, there is always something fun to do, the school spirit is remarkable, and on top of it al you live on a beautiful campus. I don't know any one that dislikes their experience here.” – Cordell from Barneveld, 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,...

“…UC Santa Cruz is a beautiful oasis. The views, environment, and opportunities are open to everyone. The teachers are just as inspiring as the classroom locations, because they are brilliant in their area of study and eager to help their students...” – chappy student

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 a wealth of opportunity to offer. It is a beautiful campus and the classes are kept small to offer individual attention to students. It also offers a lot of ways to get involved and give back to the community as well as...” – Brianna from Frisco, TX

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 University is a REALLY great school. Although the courses are more rigorous than I expected, they are do-able and serve as great character builders. It provides a friendly environment, overall, and, as it has made me happy, I'm sure it will...” – Benjamin from Phillipsburg, NJ

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 school on the top of a hill in the small village of Hamilton NY. It is a place where you are a part of a community and where you are likely to see at least three people you know on the way to class. Most of all it...” – Yekaterina from Amherst, 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...

“…university of hawaii of manoa is a great school. there are amazing students you will meet but also a very good place to live in because as most people describe it, it's paradise. you will enjoy going to uh manoa, go warriors!” – Marife from Honolulu, HI

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...

“…This school provides a very diverse but tight-knit community. The professors are so passionate about what they teach and are determined to make you fall in love with their material. The opportunities are endless here because the school is always...” – Jennah from Westport, CT

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...

“…The academics are rigorous RIT is not a place to take your academics lightly. How good your social life is depends on what your looking for. If your a geek you'll fit right in but if more of a party person it will be harder for you to find your niche...” – Ernesto from Inglewood, CA

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...

“…Large Lots to do Great Academics” – Erin

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...

“…Illinois Tech is a vibrant institute with the largest diverse student population I have ever seen!. Education First! Fun last!” – Amadou from Lynnwood, WA

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...

“…the best university that really transform people and make them realize their dreams. form me i can confidently say this is where my engineering career will be nurtured developed to the world`s standards. ” – Majaliwa from Kenya

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 a great place to pursue your academic passions and push yourself to realize your full potential. It's not for everyone; the academics can be pretty intense, depending on your major and if you choose to enter the Honors Program, and the...” – Sarah from Wynnewood, PA

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...

“…this place prizes excellence, yet has a wonderful sense of community. wellesley is incredibly diverse and accepting-- i've learned so much from my fellow students. this school has so many resources that it is impossible to take advantage of them all.” – Gina from Wellesley, MA

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...

“…I am absolutely in love with Barnard. Barnard offers the best of both worlds, operating as a small liberal arts women's college yet offering students all of the resources available at the Ivy League Columbia University. ” – Anonymous

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...

“…The people here are generally nice. Classes are fairly challenging and give a fair amount of homework. Students generally don't get off campus as often as they might at other (more urban) schools, which builds a greater sense of community, but also...” – Isaac from Western NC

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 U of M has exceptional opportunities for those undergraduates who want to pursue research. The campus has a very diverse population with students coming from all over the world. The classes are difficult, but numerous sources of help are...” – Staci from 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 has an amazing, creative, insightful atmosphere that contributes to the success of all of its students. Its honor code is not strict-despite the opinions of others, in fact it is open to the ideas and issues that its students bring up...” – Kayla from Bronx, NY

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...

“…I would describe Whitman as my extended family. Everyone, from the professors to the students to the janitors, have been nothing but supportive since I have been here. I have met some of the most interesting and caring people here.” – Daniel from Walla Walla, 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...

“…UAF has small classes, great professors, low in-state tuition, a beautiful campus with views of mountains, sustainability initiative, a bar, and so much more.” – Christina 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...

“…Ohio Wesleyan is situated in quaint, rural mid-west environment with a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, making it an awesome place to learn first-hand from a very talented and dedicated group of academics. It offers a broad range of student activities,...” – Rachel from West Bloomfield, MI

United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy is a 4-year service academy in Maryland’s state capital of Annapolis. The academy grants bachelor’s degrees in 25 academic majors and all Navy students are classified with the rank of midshipmen during their time on...

“…I would rate this institution as a B+. The atmosphere is great, the friendships forged here are amazing and the level of intelligence among the midshipmen is incredible at times. The only problem I have with this place is the greatly varied and...” – Alex from Arnold, MD

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...

“…The campus is integrated into the local community without losing the collegiate feel, which opens up local employment and service opportunities. The classes are small and discussion-based and will not leave you wanting. Franklin and Marshall is small...” – Georgianna from Frederick, 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...

“…A college that is accepting of students from every background possibly imaginable. The possibilities are endless for what you want to study with classes that include a variety of interests and programs allowing students to create their own majors if...” – Catherine

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...

“…bennington college is a place where intellectual development is highly and constantly encouraged. students are challenged using innovative ideas. the community is welcoming and close-knit.” – Brianna from New York, NY

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,...

“…This school has offered me experiences I don't think I could receive anywhere else. The science professors have integrated a plethora of information into just the three years I have been there. In combination with the hands-on experiences, I have...” – Kayleigh from Byron, NY