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...

“…

The amount of knowledge you will gain during your first year at UCLA will be more valuable than any previous experiences. First, there is the academic aspect. Essentially, the material being taught in college is the same for any school, so self...

” – Joanna from Carson City, NV
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...

“…

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...

“…

Arizona State is a rigorous state school that can provide many opportunities to those who know where to look. The school is expensive, but provides many unique services to the students. If one is willing to put in the work, ASU is a great place to be...

” – Joseph from Henderson, NV
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, with a multicultural student population representing more than 140 countries. MSU offers 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...

“…

Perhaps my favorite thing about Baylor is the opportunity I have had as an honor student to have the interdisciplinary major called University Scholars. If you have high enough SAT's and enough AP classes and a good application essay, you can be...

” – Meaghan from Keller, 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 way different from high school! I am finally learning what I want to learn. They do have a standard requirement for students in their DARS report which helps students organize their credits and keep track of thier progress towards graduation...

” – Jada from Toledo, OH
Rice University

Originally founded as the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art, Rice University is a 4-year private institution in Houston. Rice encompasses six colleges and schools conferring undergraduate degrees in over...

“…

Rice does a cool thing with general education. Instead of requiring certain courses in several areas, they require 12 hours in each of three distribution lists. This means that if you're a humanities major you don't have to take Chemistry or...

” – Scott from Crown Point, IN
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Rutgers University is a public research university, one of the first nine original colonial colleges, and a land grant institution, as well. The largest university in New Jersey, Rutgers maintains 29 schools and colleges between its three campuses...

“…

Rutgers University is an excellent school because it offers various majors and minors to accommodate every student. Their Pharmacy, Engineering, as well as Business schools are widely acclaimed and their challenging programs drastically prepare you...

” – Lawrenceville, 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...

“…

I was delighted to find that most of the professors at UC really know their stuff and they are willing to help if you don't understand them on the first go. However, it certainly is useful to ask around about potential professors. I had a Chemistry...

” – Nathan from Edgewood, KY
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...

“…

There is a reason why college review boards consistently rate Tufts in the top 30 universities in America. The teachers and students alike bring much more to the table than I ever expected. The classes are hard in the way that demands attention and...

” – Gregory 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...

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Carnegie Mellon University is ranked as one of the top universities in the nation. It's a small research university that gives the feel of a secluded campus while being in the city of Pittsburgh. It is very easy to get involved in clubs and...

” – Sam from Pittsburgh, PA
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...

“…

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

” – chappy student
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a 4-year public institution in central Oklahoma. OU offers bachelor’s degrees in 170 academic fields of study. In addition to classroom space, the OU campus hosts the National Weather Center featuring a...

“…

OU is home to the most National Merits.
OU is home to the Big 12 Championships of 2015.
OU is home to the most international students who are UWC (United World College) Davis scholars.

” – Julia from Edmond, 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...

“…

While the classes are getting quite difficult, that only shows that the quality of the material is effective. My freshman year, similar to most schools, was very basic and more of an introduction, while my sophomore year is full of new information...

” – Matthew from Georgetown, DE
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...

“…

I came to Colgate with a pretty narrow idea of what I wanted to study and what I wanted out of my collegiate career. Colgate has, however, reshaped my ideas about the potential of a college education. I thought that both the core program and the...

” – Peter from Hamilton, NY
University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa is a 4-year public university on the island of O’ahu and the flagship campus of the UH System. The largest and oldest of the Hawai’i campuses, UH Manoa confers bachelor’s degrees in 100 academic majors. Additionally...

“…

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...

“…

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...

“…

R.I.T truly prepares you for your career. I am a Freshman and a Psychology Major. I have only been here for a little over a month but I feel that I have learned so much already. The professors are extremely nice and actually desire to see us grasp...

” – Alexis from Washington, DC
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...

“…

UNM pushes a lot of self responsibility, so I have learned quite a bit about how to mind my own finances and career goals. It does offer support though, so it's not like they just abandon you. You just have to be responsible enough to go and get the...

” – Morgan from Rio Rancho, 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...

“…

Students that attend IIT go to study and become future leaders, not to fool around or party. I am currently learning so much from the architecture program. The professors are practicing architects and although I just ended my first semester, I feel...

” – Christian from Elgin, 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...

“…

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...

“…

Having not attended another college aside from Whitman, my frame of reference is definitely a narrow one. I can still confidently say that my needs as a student are met exceptionally well, and I have been learning very much from some truly great...

” – Tanner from Hanover, PA
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...

“…

Financial aid is wonderful at this school. It's a private school and is therefore expensive, but they will do their utmost to help you attend.

” – Lindsey from Peachtree City, 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...

“…

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

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...