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Programs Interest in Astrophysics

  1. Jun 2, 2017 #1
    Looking for thoughts. I have recently gained an interest in Astrophysics and have considered going back to school to study the subject. I have a BS in Computer Science, and an MS in Information Technology and I believe my background is close enough to consider an MS program in Physics. However, although my local university has MS/PhD programs in Physics, they have nothing focusing on Astronomy/Astrophysics. There are maybe 1-2 courses actually designated as such but I believe they are both undergraduate and certainly nothing exists at the graduate level. The MS program itself is in Applied Physics only. My question is - would it be a waste of time to attempt to study at this school in particular? Although it would be nice just to pick up and move to another area, I wouldn't be able to for the foreseeable future. And at the same time I know it wouldn't be a waste to gain more advanced knowledge of physics in general even though it's not in the particular field I want to study. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I think you should consider it more of a hobby and do self-study for interest. The job market is extremely poor in astrophysics unless you're an outstanding graduate school candidate.

    You could for example take courses in computer simulation and then apply it to astrophysics problems modeling stars, black holes or galaxies and other interesting phenomena. The computer simulation stuff could be used in machine learning work which is pretty high paying then once you have enough money to buy a university then you an go back to school and enjoy studying it for fun.
  4. Jun 2, 2017 #3
    And I guess I should say, I really am only doing it out of pure interest, I already have a career in computing. So technically I could continue to learn it on my own as I have been, it's just more difficult without a formal education.
  5. Jun 2, 2017 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Did you complete many senior level physics courses during your computer science degree? The reason I bring this up is because generally speaking a Computer Science degree in and of itself does not usually fit into the "or equivalent" part of the requirements for admission to the graduate program being "a BSc in physics or equivalent." And while you background and any self-teaching you may have done might make you feel prepared, you could very easily get yourself in over your head by enrolling in a master's degree that you're not prepared for (assuming you were able to get in).

    If you really want a graduate education in astrophysics, it's probably best to take the time to jump through the hoops and get into a program that you really want to get into rather than trying to shoehorn yourself into an option that looks like the best option at the time.
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