Is a Computer Science Background Enough for an MS in Astrophysics?

In summary, the individual is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in astrophysics, but their local university does not offer a program specifically focusing on astronomy/astrophysics. They are considering enrolling in a general physics program, but are unsure if it would be a waste of time. They are also considering self-study and using their computer science background to incorporate astrophysics. It is mentioned that the job market for astrophysics is poor and it may be best to pursue it as a hobby. It is advised to carefully consider their background and preparation in physics before enrolling in a graduate program.
  • #1
frizzlefrazzle
2
0
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!
 
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  • #2
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.
 
  • #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.
 
  • #4
frizzlefrazzle said:
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.

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.
 

Related to Is a Computer Science Background Enough for an MS in Astrophysics?

What is astrophysics?

Astrophysics is a branch of science that studies the physical properties, behavior, and evolution of celestial objects such as planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. It combines principles of physics, astronomy, and mathematics to understand how these objects interact with each other and their surrounding environment.

Why is there an interest in astrophysics?

There is a great interest in astrophysics because it helps us to understand the universe and our place in it. It allows us to explore the mysteries of the cosmos, from the birth and death of stars to the formation of galaxies and the origins of the universe. Studying astrophysics can also have practical applications, such as developing new technologies for space exploration and improving our understanding of Earth's climate.

What are some common research topics in astrophysics?

Some common research topics in astrophysics include the study of dark matter and dark energy, the formation and evolution of galaxies, the search for habitable planets outside of our solar system, and the study of cosmic phenomena such as black holes, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts. Astrophysicists also study the properties of different types of stars and their life cycles, as well as the origins and fate of the universe.

What skills are needed to pursue a career in astrophysics?

Pursuing a career in astrophysics typically requires strong mathematical and analytical skills, as well as a solid understanding of physics and astronomy. Other important skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team. Good communication skills are also important, as astrophysicists often need to present their findings and collaborate with others in the field.

How can I get involved in astrophysics research?

There are several ways to get involved in astrophysics research, including pursuing a degree in astrophysics or a related field, participating in internships or research programs, and attending conferences and workshops. It is also helpful to network with other astrophysicists and join professional organizations in the field. Additionally, many universities and research institutions have opportunities for citizen scientists to contribute to astrophysics research projects.

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