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...

“…

Here at UCLA, each quarter only lasts 11 weeks (10 weeks of instruction and 1 week of finals). In these short quarters, it feels like information is being constantly crammed into your head by three or four different professors. Most of the time, it...

” – Stephen from San Diego, 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...

“…

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...

“…

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...

“…

It is hard to limit yourself to only 4 or 5 courses with all that Yale has to offer. It isn't unheard of for very ambitious students to pile on 6 or even 7 at a time! Many classes will push you hard to master the material, but there are always a...

” – Yale '12
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 is easily one of the most intellectually stimulating universities in the north! While the core may seem stifling and constricting at first, you'll undoubtedly learn quite a bit concerning the roots of the Western literary tradition and...

” – Eurick from Yonkers, 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 was my top choice based on the wide spread of classes offered, the great education, and the world changing young men and woman that have prospered out of ASU. My classes are challenging but with hard work A's are capable. I no longer...

” – Joel from Chandler, 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 has a beautiful campus! The students are friendly and hardworking. You definitely have to work hard to get in!

” – Gabriella
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...

“…

I don't need three sentences, I just need three words. Study, Party, Succeed. Those are the three things you will accomplish at this school. By far the most well rounded school in the Big 10.

” – Nick from Troy, 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...

“…

We toured different classrooms when I visited and it was really great to see that the majority of them are small (more time to ask for help and get to know your teacher!). I also spoke with several different department leaders and it truly touched my...

” – Sarah 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...

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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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Most professors teach well, and expect students to attend lectures and read the assigned material, which leads to good retention of information. Unfortunately, the workload can be somewhat heavy at times, depending on classes taken.

” – Bianca from Angel Fire, NM
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...

“…

This is one aspect I guarantee you will feel the same way about. Having about 3-5 academic classes and 1-2 seminars per semester allowed me to really focus on the information presented. I found that teachers were incredibly effective and helpful, and...

” – Annie
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...

“…

Lots of walking.Great scenery. Many fun extracurricular and exciting course opportunities.

” – Arlandra 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...

“…

The learning environment at Iowa State is unlike anything else, there's no doubt in my mind that it has been a challenge, but the school offers many resources for any student who is willing to seek them out. the collegiate learning experience demands...

” – Jennifer from Shoreview, 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 a community of Global Citizens-- students and faculty who want to make this world a better place from our campus community to the global community. People here each have unique passions that could work to isolate us all; however, Tufts...

” – Proud Jumbo from Oakland, CA
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 Education you can find, the Academics are rigorous and challenging. Leadership, Team Work and Character is KEY to success at the Academy. The BEST place to commission as an Officer in the Army.

” – Felix from San Juan, PR
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...

“…

Each professor has their own teaching technique to make their class interesting, and many classes have teaching assistants who can help you individually. One small problem you might encounter with the teaching assistants is a language barrier, but...

” – Kristin 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...

“…

After completing my first year at UCSC - and most of my GEs - I feel that I have learned a lot in many different areas of study. The classes offered as general education requirements are both interesting and informative. I have only taken two of my...

” – Shannon from Petaluma, CA
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...

“…

OU professors really teach you to think for yourself, especially your English professors. OU professor also teach you different research skills. You really do have to study a lot to make the grade but it is worth it. There are so many diverse...

” – Jayla from Tulsa, 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...

“…

The campus is amazing and Lehigh has everything I am looking for. I want to be very active in clubs and in the community and I get the impression Lehigh would be able to fulfill that. I did not know about Lehigh until I researched it for softball...

” – Jeanine from Forest, VA
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...

“…

At Colgate you are not only surrounded by incredible professors who are experts in their field but your are surrounded by curious and intelligent students so you are constantly learning both inside and outside the classroom. You will be challenged to...

” – Elisabeth
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...

“…

By being in a place that has such rich history and such a different culture than any other place elsewhere in the United States, you not only learn many new things just by being in college but also you learn about a whole culture. I have learned a...

” – Kelly from Pine Valley, CA
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...

“…

I feel like I am learning a lot! The professors have been great and are very helpful. It is a lot of work, but it keeps me busy and very focused on my education.

” – Emily from Fort Worth, 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...

“…

classes at williams are tough, but when you get through all of the work you're rewarded at the end with a deep understanding of the course material. professors aren't shy about piling on the work, but they're also extremely approachable and always...

” – William from New York
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...

“…

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...

“…

The Illinois Institute of Technology is a one-of-a-kind school with its fairly small student:teacher ratio and its challenging academic programs. Its location is ideal as it is not in downtown Chicago but just a few minutes from it. Studying at IIT...

” – Gabriel from Joliet, 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...

“…

Swarthmore's campus is absolutely breathtaking, and this is largely due to the fact that the campus itself is a registered arboretum.

The academics are really open for students to pursue their specific or interdisciplinary interests; for example...

” – Jacob from Wayne, MI
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 motivated, driven woman's place to take risks, challenge herself, and learn unique tools for success. The professors are dynamite, the resources are incredible, and the campus is New England paradise. Then on the weekend, feel free to...

” – Mackenzie from San Francisco, CA
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 wonderful college with so many activities, classes and resources that you wish you could be here for more than four years.

” – Barnard Student from Woodside, NY
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...

“…

Whitman College is located in Walla Walla, Washington. Whitman College challenges you in every way possible: from academics to sports to the meaning of life. Whitman makes you question everything you know and on top of that expects the very best of...

” – Maricela from Los Angeles, CA
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 going to be a History major. I believe that UAF will help me to learn a lot and help me to pursue the stuff that I want to do the most.

” – Kristie from Graham, WA
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...

“…

If you had to define the words Liberal Arts by showing a college, this would be it. There is the opportunity to do everything and anything here, and there is the opportunity to do it well. I would recommend it to people who are invested in their own...

” – Ailee from Westminster, CO
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...

“…

Agnes is a very strong academic school for women. A beautiful campus with very friendly people. Everyone helps each other and all you have to do is ask.

” – Alexandra from Homestead, FL
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