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

“…First of all, UCLA is in one of the most amazing cities by far! Los Angeles has so much to offer within its grasps and if you think Los Angeles is boring then that is your fault. I would give UCLA a 9 out of 10 just because it is so diverse and...” – Katie

“…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

“…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 is the best place on earth. i felt at home within a few weeks and have yet to meet one boring or unlikeable person. the residential college system is probably the highlight of the community.” – Elizabeth from Marietta, GA

“…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 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

“…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 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

“…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 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 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 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

“…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 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

“…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 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 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

“…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

“…Madison is probably one of the most diverse colleges in the state of Wisconsin. Here, I have met a variety of people from all sorts of different backgrounds and have been introduced to a multitude of experiences. All in all, there's no place like...” – Amber from Greenleaf, WI

“…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

“…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 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 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 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 is a really fruitful environment where intelligence and hard work thrives. The interactions amongst students and professors breeds an environment in which ALL learn and benefit. The opportunities that this institution presents are...” – Demarius from Calumet City, IL

“…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

“…UNM is a great school, with a very tight community. The teachers are great. The on campus living is an amazing experience.” – Ailbhe from Santa Fe, NM

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

“…beautiful from pictures and i am sure in real life. difficult to get into, but if you put your mind to it, you'll strive for the best.” – abbey, from nyc

“…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

“…Attending Wellesley was the best decision I have ever made. It is an empowering and inspiring place. It has provided me with opportunities I would have never imagined.” – Meagan from Wellesley, MA

“…Simply put, I love Barnard and truly almost everyone I know does as well. I have never felt more independent, challenged, or excited as I do living in New York City and taking classes at Columbia. And because of Barnard, I also feel empowered as a...” – Barnard_2014

“…colby perfectly encompasses the liberal arts with plenty of research and internship opportunities. the campus, people, and staff/faculty are all truly beautiful on the inside and out. people are constantly looking out for you, while still keeping a...” – Bridget from Eliot, ME

“…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

“…A close-knit space where people of liberal tendencies really get to know one another. The faulty is superb and dedicated, and people generally look out for each other. The general air of people on campus is surprisingly reserved and polite.” – Jasmin from Brooklyn, NY

“…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

“…To say the least, UAF is a unique, culturally diverse University. Fairbanks has opportunities available for students that no other university can offer (ice climbing, anyone?). Small class size and a community atmosphere make UAF the perfect place to...” – Kate

“…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

“…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

“…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

“…this school has a diverse student body and diverse fields of study. the class size is small, so you have easy access to your professors. all in all, the school has a friendly, open feel to it. ” – Alexaundra from Roswell, GA

“…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

“…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