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 offers a great balance between being a challenging school and not being impossible. The classes are tough, and the quarter system makes it absolutely essential to stay on top of things. Classes last only ten weeks, so a missed lecture or a...

” – Liz
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...

“…

With its liberal arts focus, Harvard provides the type of education that helps you to become a better thinker. You probably won't gain as much concrete knowledge here as you would at a non-liberal arts college, but I think this has more to do with...

” – Cindy
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 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...

“…

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...

“…

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...

“…

Before attending ASU, I attended another state college. At that college, for most of my classes, my teachers were the heads of the departments. But for the other classes, though, it was a joke. At ASU, however, all of my classes have been challenging...

” – Rachel from Tempe, 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...

“…

Princeton is challenging and the content of what we learn is relavent to life. There is no other place I'd rather be. The wealth of networking and level of academics has been worth the work to get here!

” – GA
Michigan State University

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University is a large public research institution in East Lansing, Michigan, with a multicultural student population representing more than 140 countries. MSU offers 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 professors know their materials and teach it well. They will be glad to help you if you just ask.

” – Ngoc from Houston, 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...

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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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You learn as much as you want, it's all about putting in the effort. Some kids skate by and take advantage of the bigger classes and never really go to lectures or learn much. Others go to every class and every exam and take a lot from it. Just...

” – Devin from Hazlet, 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...

“…

There is always an interesting class to take, and the professors are very helpful! They encourage you to do your best, while presenting you with challenging information. If you are a freshman, most professors understand the transition from high...

” – Amanda 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...

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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...

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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...

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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 stands among the world's most renowned educational institutions, and we tap into our diverse community and world-leading digital technologies across business, engineering, the sciences, the humanities and the arts to chart...

“…

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 have learned so much since I began my schooling at University of Wisconsin-Madison. There is such a variety of classes to choose from which makes it easy for you to find classes that you are interested in. The professors here challenge you to think...

” – Hannah from Andover, MN
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...

“…

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...

“…

I took 2 AP classes in high school and studied often. I took a lighter workload and after my first semester at OU, I found that classes were not as difficult as I anticipated. Since OU is a public university, the class sizes are definitely bigger...

” – Marissa from Pacifica, CA
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...

“…

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...

“…

Colgate has a really great Core Curriculum program that gave me a great view into a wide array of subjects and helped me to expand my interests. The libraries on campus are filled with resources that have helped me through my academic experiences...

” – Kristina from Mayfield Village, OH
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...

“…

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
Suffolk University

Located a short walk from the Massachusetts State House and Boston Common, Suffolk University is a private university in Boston. Suffolk confers undergraduate and graduate degrees in over 100 fields of study. For students interested in learning in a...

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One of Suffolk's best qualities are the small class sizes. This allows students to have personal relationships with their professors because they are so small. The academics at Suffolk can be challenging but are never completely overwhelming...

” – Brenna from Waterbury, CT
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 at this school really want you to learn from them. They're more concerned with your understanding of the topic rather than just getting the class through their lessons. Every professor I had also made a point to connect with the...

” – Jillian
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...

“…

The classes are fast paced and challenging, particularly the math and science courses. If you keep up with the coursework, reading, and go to office hours, you definetly learn a lot. English classes are not much different than high school. You have...

” – Marsha from belmont, MA
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
Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s leading university for students who are eager to become creative, aware, and extraordinary global citizens. The sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, Trinity encourages...

“…

The campus is extremely beautiful. Just don't step on the grass! Very scholarly and the people there are very kind.

” – Belle from Douglasville, GA
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 school is a good place to go and get your degree. I am studying Business. The classes are harder for this major than other majors. There is a lot of writing and reading. However, the teachers are extremely nice, and they are very helpful. They do...

” – Stacy from Los Alamos, 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...

“…

IIT is the place to expand your mind literally. The classes are intense, but if you can keep up with the coursework, totally worth it. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! The professors are readily available, always willing to help, and they...

” – Gwendolyn from Westmoreland, NH
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...

“…

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 one of the toughest colleges in the country, but it pays off. Aside from major intro classes like Psch 1 and Bio 1&2, class sizes are very small. Professors are brilliant and AVAILABLE--unlike profs at huge research universities, they...

” – Some Swattie
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 an excellent liberal arts school because, in a nutshell, they teach you how to figure the world out for yourself. They have excellence in everything: faculty, location, students, campus, dining, residential staff, dorms, comprehensive...

” – Christine from Salt Lake City, UT
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 college is one of the most unique college experiences that exist- partly because of it's location in NYC, partly because of the affiliation with Columbia, and partly because of its existence as a women's college. Being a part of Columbia is...

” – Cassie
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 College provides a safe and welcoming environment to prospective and new students as well as an experience that is unique, challenging, and gratifying. The largest classes at Colby are probably the introductory science courses, which take place...

” – Angela from Bronx, NY
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...

“…

If you are willing to spend the time, the professors are more than willing to help you out. Some of the classes are hard and require after class work, but in the end it's all worth it. They don't restrict you on what you can / can't take. It's up to...

” – Donald from Norwood, 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...

“…

The curriculum is rigorous, but not overwhelming. The Encounters program is a good introduction to the Whitman experience, as it coaches college writing and seminar skills. Most professors are extremely helpful at providing extra help, constructive...

” – Alaska
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 Chemistry Forensics. While I have only taken my general requirement classes, I feel that a majority of the classes are very well planned out and teach new information. Some of the classes are easy to pass with...

” – Rianna 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
Oglethorpe University

Chartered in 1835, Oglethorpe University is a private liberal arts college situated in Brookhaven, Georgia. The Oglethorpe University’s Gothic revival-style campus has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to the Crypt of...

“…

First off, Oglethorpe is simply beautiful -- the whole campus, from Lupton Keyhole to Turner Lynch Campus Center, is one of my favorite places. The professors are very good, and you really have to work hard -- which is good! Finally, even though the...

” – Kelly from Atlanta, GA
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...

“…

Franklin & Marshall is about the liberal arts experience. You are not there to become a doctor, or a lawyer or a business professional; you are there to learn, to create, and to explore. This school emphasizes that this is the ONE CHANCE in your life...

” – Ashley from Burlington, VT
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...

“…

I have never been exposed to so much information in one academic year! Because of the distributional requirements you are exposed to a multitude of subjects and you learn a little bit of everything. My first year, I took classes in History, Biology...

” – Kristina from Thonotosassa, FL
Bennington College

Bennington College is a progressive liberal arts college, the hub at which global opportunities converge, and a launching pad for careers of meaning. Our campus prepares leaders, intellectual change-makers, and artists by empowering them to shape...

“…

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
St. John's College-Santa Fe

St. John’s College is the third oldest college in the United States and famous for the distinctive Great Books curriculum. Students read over 200 of the greatest books ever written, discuss them in classes of 20 students or fewer, and, instead of...

“…

I'm ALWAYS learning... both the curriculum and the lifestyle of this campus are stimulating and dynamic. There is usually some sort of event going on; there are tons of options with intramurals, and there's a huge array of individuals. Classes always...

” – Isabel from Converse, TX
St. John's College-Annapolis

St. John’s College is the third oldest college in the United States and famous for the distinctive Great Books curriculum. Students read over 200 of the greatest books ever written, discuss them in classes of 20 students or fewer, and, instead of...

“…

At St. John's the program is fixed but the tutors add a specific flavor to each class. In your freshman year you take a course learning about languages which accompanies the learning of Ancient Greek. You also study Euclid's elements and Ptolemy's...

” – Naga from Knoxville, TN

Originally founded to serve the educational needs of a large group of returning World War II veterans, Ohio University Eastern is a regional campus in the OU system. OUE grants 13 bachelor’s and two associate degree programs entirely on campus as...

Ohio University-Chillicothe is the original regional campus in the OU system and the first regional campus in the state. Ohio Chillicothe is home to more than 20 academic programs and foundational courses for degrees offered at other OU campuses. For...

Just a few blocks from the Ohio River, Ohio University-Southern Campus is a regional campus in the OU system. OU Southern offers 30 degree and certificate programs available entirely on campus as well as the opportunity to begin classes in other OU...

“…

I am learning a lot in all of my classes so far, but I would have to say that the classes that I've learned the most in were General Psychology 101 and Math 102. The instructors made sure that EVERY student understood a topic before they progressed...

” – Brittany from Ironton, OH

Ohio University Lancaster is a regional campus in the OU system located southeast of Columbus. OUL offers 12 bachelor’s degree programs on campus including Sport and Lifestyle Studies and Middle Childhood Education as well as the option to begin...

“…

I think the small class size is a great learning environment. I believe student will succeed in a room where they can speak one on one with their professor. The academic, as well as, athletic programs are very strong and are a great place for...

” – Mason from Pickerington, OH

Established in 1946, Ohio University in Zanesville is a public, 4-year institution located in Muskingum County and is one of seven Ohio University campuses and centers. OU Zanesville offers five associate degree programs, 13 bachelor’s degree...

University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is an institution located in the city of the same name. Founded in 1881, the redbrick university is proud of their founding mission, ‘for the advancement of learning and enoblement of life,’ which they still maintain today...