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Astrophysics Education

  1. Sep 30, 2014 #1
    Hello! I just created an account and this is my first post for this site. I am interested in studying a field that deals with particles in space, and after I did some research I decided Astrophysics is a suitable field for this interest. After I did some research on Astrophysics, I noticed that other courses are required in order to become an Astrophysicist. One of these courses was computer science, particularly dealing with programs. I was wondering if I could already start this course in high school and then not have to do it in college. This would make certain things easier to deal with. Also, is there any other courses that may be required to become an Astrophysicist? (Particularly engineering)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2014 #2
    If you want to do astrophysics, you will need a PhD. I recommend you get your bachelor's degree in Physics, because that itself is a strong foundation for any sub-field of physics and is more employable with just an undergraduate degree than an astronomy/astrophysics degree. Nonetheless you can still take plenty of astro courses in college but you don't necessarily need the major. Then once you graduate you can do your PhD in Astrophysics - some people even just do a PhD in physics but focus on astrophysical/astronomical research.

    You need to look at the curriculum for the schools you are considering.

    That's called an AP course, if your school offers it. Some high schools have IB programs which I do not know much about. Look at the curriculum and graduation requirements for Physics majors at the universities you are considering. Then, look to see if they offer AP Credit for certain AP Exams (usually find it by googling "University Name AP Credit"). If a good score on the AP Computer Science test score exams will fulfill a requirement for the physics major, then that is an option.

    If you cannot do AP classes for whatever reason, consider dual enrollment with a local community college or university.

    Computer Science is generally helpful in physics and especially astrophysics because there is a lot of modeling and programming knowledge is very versatile. Even if you can't get credit for it in college, programming is something you can learn to do early. There are plenty of resources on knowing how to code.

    Nonetheless, if you are truly interested in this field, you should spend more time understanding the physics. Have you taken Physics at your school or do you plan on taking it? Don't worry about trying to knock classes out before college too much - if you work hard you will be able to graduate in 4 years.

    as I said before, you need to look at the curriculum of the physics programs at universities you are considering attending. They will explicitly tell you what you need in order to graduate with the degree. What do you mean by engineering? I don't know of any physics/astronomy program that explicitly requires engineering courses. Physics majors can however choose to pursue engineering in grad school, but there is quite a bit of remedial work to transition into engineering.
  4. Sep 30, 2014 #3
    Yes, start programming in high school for sure. This is a great idea. Then you can have a good foundation to do some research in your undergraduate program.
  5. Oct 1, 2014 #4
    Thank you guys for the information. I really enjoy science, and I want to work hard to find a career where I am the most interested in. Getting information ahead of time is good, because it will allow me to start preparing already. I will take computer programming classes in high school, and I will chose physics next year for high school as well.
  6. Oct 1, 2014 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    What year are you in right now?
  7. Oct 2, 2014 #6
    I am in the middle of my 10th year.
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