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Going from undergrad Bio to graduate astronomy

  1. Mar 28, 2013 #1

    So I'm going to be a third year molecular and cell biology major soon and I'm barely catching up on the requirements to complete the major at my university. I really had a hard time choosing between this and physics, thinking and weighing out the differences between the two for a few months. I chose biology in the end since I was just better at conceptual understanding rather than that required of physics. I would switch now but I just wouldn't make it in time for graduation. Still, I can't really see myself being as passionate about biology as I am about space sciences. I don't mind the thought of studying astronomy in graduate school but thinking about pursuing a phd in a biological science just doesn't feel right to me.

    What I am wondering is how can I prepare myself for a graduate program in astronomy/astrophysics? My understanding is that graduate schools need some kind of record that I actually had training in advanced physics and laboratory.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2013 #2
  4. Mar 28, 2013 #3
    I have read that thread, and that's why I wrote the second part of my post.
    Assuming that I do have sufficient knowledge/training, how would I prove to the graduate schools if I don't have the time to get that onto my transcript?
  5. Mar 28, 2013 #4


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    I'm not sure there really is any way around it other than actually completing the relevant courses.

    I'm sure there are exceptional cases admission clauses, but usually these are truly exceptional. An example might be a child prodigy who completes a subset of undergraduate and then graduate courses with near perfect grades who is then accepted into the graduate program at the same institution. They are not generally afforded to someone in your circumstances.
  6. Apr 23, 2013 #5
    Kind of late but..

    well actually I think you completely missed the point of my thread lol. I am not saying that I want to go directly to astronomy with a B.A. in Biology. I just wanted to know what I could do to prepare for graduate school in astronomy, and how to get that ON PAPER. I have spoken to a few advisers about it and they all said told me not to worry. They thought that my idea of getting a masters degree is not a bad idea and that graduate school is not as rigid as I thought it would be. They all suggested me to contact the admissions office of the universities that I am interested in. For those who have a similar issue, I recommend you to do the same, as they are the ones that know about this process, not the forums.

    I have solved this issue on my own though. I've decided to extend my stay in my university in order to double major.
  7. Apr 24, 2013 #6

    Yeah, I don't think a biology degree will prepare you for a graduate program in astronomy. Our astronomy PhD program, for example, requires every student to take mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and statistical mechanics, along with several astronomy-specific courses. The only way to be adequately prepared for all those grad-level physics courses is to have taken plenty of upper division physics courses as an undergrad. In fact, almost all of the students admitted to our astro PhD program majored in physics as undergrads.
  8. Apr 24, 2013 #7
    Why not aim for astrobiology, a totally fascinating area with a great near future - probes going to Mars & Jupiter's moons looking for life, Earth-like planets just starting to be discovered around other stars (one on the news last night!)

    Also on the news last night, the Dutch are planning a reality show based on sending an astronaut on a one way mission to Mars (one way 'cause bone & muscle will waste away so much that there will be no return... not sure if this is true... an astrobiologist might know, or find out...)

    http://astrobiology2.arc.nasa.gov/nai/education-and-outreach/astrobiology-career-path-suggestions [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Apr 25, 2013 #8
    Yes, I am well aware of that. This is why I said that I will be double majoring and that I thought about getting a masters degree first. Though I didn't know that one would need to learn such a wide range of courses.

    Wow!! That sounds really cool. I've actually been thinking about astrobiology, but I need to read up more about it. That link you provided is very helpful, so thank you!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  10. Apr 25, 2013 #9
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