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Difference between astrophysics and physics undergraduate degree.

  1. Oct 8, 2012 #1
    I am in the final year of high school.Many colleges offer astrophysics courses after high school.I am interested in physics in general and would not like to commit myself to an area so early to an area. I am sure about my interest in physics but I don't know which area I would like to go in and would like to decide after actually studying the basics.
    Are things covered in a standard physics course, which are not related to space covered?And can you specialize in any other area afterwards?
    Also,Does it make any difference if you chose this or a standard physics course, if you want to pursue a career in physics but not particularly interested in astro physics ?

    The reason I ask this question is that it is very difficult to change your major in India.Many Colleges offer a particular stream like only engineering, only physics or only "astro"physics in this case.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2012 #2


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    You can major in physics and then go to grad school for physics, astronomy, astrophysics, biophysics, medical physics, geophysics, and many other related fields. A broad education in physics will let you specialize later. But most astrophysics majors don't include as much physics as a regular physics major, and leave you less prepared for a graduate program in astronomy as a result - since those programs require the physics GRE and expect you to be ready to take graduate level physics courses.
  4. Oct 9, 2012 #3
    Does that mean Astronomy is required for Astrophysics? I am a freshman in college and I'm thinking about majoring in Physics and a minor in Astronomy. Would that get me ready for Astrophysics in graduate school?
  5. Oct 10, 2012 #4
    Most people get a physics degree then go into astrophysics in grad school. But theres no harm taking some courses in astrophysics or astronomy. I personally wouldnt take them in place of physics courses though.
    I am also interested in astronomy and astrophysics. I just study it in my spare time.
  6. Oct 10, 2012 #5
    No astronomy is not REQUIRED for astrophysics.
  7. Oct 11, 2012 #6
    Thank you for all your replies... What if your university offers only astrophysics? It is a space-science and technology institute and the degree is astrophysics. After that can you go in any other area of physics?
  8. Oct 12, 2012 #7
    I'd say this is hard, because your coursework is all astrophys, which leaves you pretty late in the game to apply for something like condensed matter or optics grad school.

    Astrophys is a specialization within Physics. Think of the subjects as nested. Within physics there are many, otpics, astro, elect, etc. From physics you can go into any, pretty much, but to switch from one branch to another without the background in general physics requires you to catch up on a lot of missed coursework.
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