Electrical Engineering bachelors to Astrophysics PhD -- good idea?

  • #1
Atlas618
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Hello, so I recently posted about wanting to become an engineer and physicist and after reading the great responses, I thought to myself why dont I get a bachelors of science degree in Electrical engineering and then move on to an Astrophysics PhD so I could become both an electrical engineer and an astrophysicist. I was also thinking of just taking enough physics courses to be qualified for this position. I still have a lot of time to think about this.. Thanks!
 
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  • #2
Atlas618 said:
so I could become both an electrical engineer and an astrophysicist.
There aren't many of those. Astrophysics normally requires an intensive physics curriculum, since there are almost no jobs. OTOH, EEs tend to learn the basics and move on to specialize in something that they like and that pays well. EE PhDs are comparatively rare as a percentage, since engineering typically is about the application of other peoples discoveries vs. original research.

Atlas618 said:
I was also thinking of just taking enough physics courses to be qualified for this position.
For Astrophysics, that would be all of your courses. There is no "just enough" you will be studying for the rest of your career.
 
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  • #3
What makes you think a EE degree will make you competitive for an astrophysics PhD? Being qualified is one thing - being the person that the school actually admits is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
 
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  • #4
Atlas618 said:
Hello, so I recently posted about wanting to become an engineer and physicist and after reading the great responses, I thought to myself why dont I get a bachelors of science degree in Electrical engineering and then move on to an Astrophysics PhD so I could become both an electrical engineer and an astrophysicist. I was also thinking of just taking enough physics courses to be qualified for this position. I still have a lot of time to think about this.. Thanks!
This really does not make sense. If you know for sure in advance that you want to pursue a PhD in astrophysics, you would want to do your BS in physics (or astrophysics). As I mentioned in your other thread, you can always take free electives in electrical engineering. If by ~ the end of your college sophomore year, you're still sitting on the fence, you could consider a double major in physics (or astrophysics) and electrical engineering, even if it would entail a 5th year. That way you can then be well positioned to (a) get a job, (b) pursue a PhD in physics (or astrophysics), or (c) pursue a graduate program in electrical engineering (master's or PhD). As others have posted, trying to squeak into a grad school program with the bare minimum for that program is not a wise strategy.
 
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  • #5
what if instead of an astrophysics phd I get a physics phd?
CrysPhys said:
This really does not make sense. If you know for sure in advance that you want to pursue a PhD in astrophysics, you would want to do your BS in physics (or astrophysics). As I mentioned in your other thread, you can always take free electives in electrical engineering. If by ~ the end of your college sophomore year, you're still sitting on the fence, you could consider a double major in physics (or astrophysics) and electrical engineering, even if it would entail a 5th year. That way you can then be well positioned to (a) get a job, (b) pursue a PhD in physics (or astrophysics), or (c) pursue a graduate program in electrical engineering (master's or PhD). As others have posted, trying to squeak into a grad school program with the bare minimum for that program is not a wise strategy.
thanks for this!
 
  • #6
Atlas618 said:
what if instead of an astrophysics phd I get a physics phd?

thanks for this!
Then you would get a BS in physics with either free electives in electrical engineering or a dual major in electrical engineering. Note some universities do offer undergrad and grad programs specifically with degrees designated as astrophysics instead of physics. Consider those only if you are dead set on astrophysics. Otherwise, I'd recommend you follow standard physics programs; you can choose an astrophysics specialization, or some other specialization (e.g., condensed matter, nuclear, high energy, ...).
 
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I don't know what the curriculum of EE majors is like where you are, but the ones I'm familiar with are highly structured and don't leave much room for additional electives. While the core EE curriculum does have more overlap with Physics than many other Engineering streams, it still falls short of the full foundational sequence of Math and Physics courses that Physics majors take (source I have one kid majoring in Physics and one majoring in EE). You could potentially be qualified to be admitted to some Applied Physics PhDs with an EE background, but alternatively you might want to consider majoring in Engineering Physics which might keep a wider range of doors open for graduate study.
 
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  • #8
gwnorth said:
I don't know what the curriculum of EE majors is like where you are, but the ones I'm familiar with are highly structured and don't leave much room for additional electives. While the core EE curriculum does have more overlap with Physics than many other Engineering streams, it still falls short of the full foundational sequence of Math and Physics courses that Physics majors take (source I have one kid majoring in Physics and one majoring in EE).
I agree with this. I was on the fence between EE and Physics, and declared for EE going into my Junior year. Up until that point I'd taken all the lower division Physics classes along with the Physics majors (they were required or highly suggested for my EE major), but the Junior year Physics classes were much more advanced than lower division classes (source: during my junior year, my roommates were another EE, a ChemE and a Physics major -- who boy!). :smile:
 
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