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...

“…

For once in my life, I have learned to be more independent. Although I am not going to remember everything professors say, I always have something in the back of my head that allows me to keep those words of wisdom. Also, being from South Central, I...

” – Jazmin from Los Angeles, 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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Harvard provides its students freedom. With freedom, it is a student's choice where to go, what to do, and who to surround themselves with. The environment at Harvard is indeed a learning one; not only do I learn in the classroom, but I learn in the...

” – Jasmin
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...

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There is literally nothing holding you back at Berkeley from taking exactly the classes you want. In fact, the College of Letters and Science requires you to take classes in virtually every field. You might call that restrictive, but that would...

” – Taylor from Santa Maria, 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 offers everything that I wanted in a school. It has a beautiful campus, wonderful faculty and incredible residential college system. The students here are super motivated and driven, but the atmosphere isn't competitive so even though you are...

” – MK
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...

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I feel I have obtained a good quality of education to this point. I like how ASU has “major maps”, which list the classes one should register for in order to graduate on time. It makes planning and registering for classes very simple. The school is...

” – Tiana 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...

“…

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...

“…

It depends on what courses you take. If you took AP language don't bother with a 2320 level class. I learned all of that in 10th grade. Baylor has these Great Texts courses where you read ancient literature and delve into the deep meanings and...

” – Sophomore Baylor Bear
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...

“…

Although only finished with my first quarter at Ohio University, I've already delved into topics that I initially only had hopes of studying. An example would be that I was very interested in archaeology and mythology, and read much about it...

” – R. from Athens, 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...

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The professors are great and they teach really well, aiming to make sure we learn lots but all the while ensuring that it's manageable and most importantly understandable. The TAs also hold many review sessions a week to help reinforce lessons from...

” – Alexander from San Diego, CA
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...

“…

The University of Cincinnati takes the safety of its students and staff very seriously. Due to its inner-city setting, the University of Cincinnati works hard to ensure that students and staff alike feel safe on campus. There are police positioned at...

” – KhanRad
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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Only into my first semester at Iowa State University, I already feel like I have learned a substantial amount of useful material. I also find myself enjoying the course material exponentially more than I did in high school. The professors work...

” – Kalynn from Davenport, IA
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...

“…

I am a psychology major in one of the largest and best psychology departments in the country. Admittedly, there are many schools that have quality psychology departments, but the University of Colorado's is very well equipped for research...

” – Alexandra from Boulder, 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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The students here are brilliant and genuinely nice. So many opportunities, from clubs, to internships, to research projects. And if you can't find them here, Boston is just a T ride away.

” – Emily from Freehold, NJ
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...

“…

You definitely get a great education at CMU. The professors are masters in their fields of study, but they still care a lot about the students. For example, my physics professor told us he wouldn't be in class the next day because he would be in...

” – Hira from Hamilton, NJ
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...

“…

One of the premier institutions in the entire country with an unparalleled education in all aspects of life. Moral, ethical, physical, mental, leadership developing lifestyle four four years to create some of the best individuals in the U.S.

” – Taylor from Chesapeake, VA
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 tip that I can give to a prospective student is to try and find your niche on campus. Once you find your community, even a campus as big as UW- Madison can feel like home away from home.

” – Raquel from Chicago, IL
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...

“…

You will learn tons if you attend every class and do everything the professors ask of you. Take accurate notes and read over them after every class before exams. This helps tremendously, especially around finals week.

” – Siobhan from El Paso, 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...

“…

Even though I'm taking mostly prerequisite classes right now, they are more advanced than anything I'd taken in high school and the teaching styles of the professors are conducive to learning. The learning that occurs on campus isn't limited to...

” – Stacy from Hope Valley, RI
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...

“…

How much you learn depends on what classes you are taking, what professor is teaching and how much you are studying. In college the classes don't go into as much detail as they did in High School. To make sure you learn all you need to know make sure...

” – Jessica from Lakewood, 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...

“…

This is the GREATEST learning environment ever! Small class sizes, professors take the time to get to know the students and the opportunity to excel beyond expectations! 

As an Eduction major in one of the TOP 4 schools in the US for teachers, I...

” – Cecily from San Diego, CA
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 quiet giant. So few people outside the northeast seem to have heard about this amazing school that is the number one undergraduate education in the country, and yet some of the wealthiest, most successful people are Williams...

” – Paige from Bonita, CA
Rochester Institute of Technology

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

“…

I stated school at RIT in September, 2008. So far it has been one of the most unexpected learning experiences of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons that I am learning. I did very well in high school academically but what make the...

” – Alissa from Milton, 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 small, close-knit, diverse community of ambitious students from around the world, coming together to enhance society and further develop innovation in the stem field. through specialized classes and hands on...

” – jennifer from prairie village, ks
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...

“…

Even from my brief experience at Caltech for Pre-Frosh Weekend, I was impressed at how seriously my future upperclassmen work hard and play hard. Most amazing was how they respected each other and the Honor Code, which dictates the way the Caltech...

” – Jianing Jenny from Plano, 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 challenges me every day to be my best, and to learn for the sake of learning rather than going through the motions to get the best GPA possible. In just one year, I have been exposed to so many interesting and informative people and...

” – Emily from Ellicott City, MD
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, in a word, intense. The students are passionate and frequently rally around their favored causes, and they bring the same fervor to their studies along with their many extracurriculars. Between the high quality education, the student...

” – Kiana from Worcester, 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...

“…

Barnard is an amazing school. The faculty is supportive and enthusiastic, always willing to help. The students are bright, amazing, young women and the community there is truly wonderful.

” – Max
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...

“…

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 College is a community of extremely caring and concerned people. One of the many aspects of the college that stands out is the our Honor Code; the Code is representative of the standard of trust and respect shared in the community and is...

” – K-dog
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 can honestly say I have grown so much in the past year both in and out of the classroom. I am academically stimulated and challenged in my courses but I also enjoy the college lifestyle. I have gained a larger interest in my studies now that I can...

” – Diana 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 a beautiful campus and a lot to offer its students. The engineering department is very helpful, encouraging, and educational (which is the goal, right?). However, the math department seems to greatly detract from the school, often believed to...

” – Sarah from Anchorage, 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...

“…

It's a good school, but one where you only get out what you put in. This school has a surprising degree of academic rigor, but only if you seek it out; it has a lot of advanced and specialist scholarship opportunities, but only if you seek them out...

” – Jay from Dayton, OH
Franklin and Marshall College

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

“…

I am learning a lot academically, culturally, and socially. Be selective when choosing courses and professors; there are some that are great and some that are not but it's like that with every college. The idea is to take matters into your own hands...

” – Cherylen from Inglewood, CA
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...

“…

This college is academically challenging in a positive way. The sense of community is strong on campus. The professor-to-student ratio is great, and the learning center is very helpful.

” – Alexis
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...

“…

After visiting and researching academic development, achievements, and graduation rates compared to other similar colleges and universities it was an easy decision to make.The staff, the faculty, and students who participated in the process of...

” – Angelique from Robesonia, PA