Is getting into an astrophysics program easier?

  1. On my apps i've been concentrating mostly on condensed matter or high energy physics, but I also love astrophysics and want to apply to one school to have the option open. However, i've heard that it's easier to get in (as in, scores are often lower for applicants). Is this true or not? I want to apply to Princeton's astrophysics program. If anyone could give me any idea of the average admits stats to such a program I would be grateful.
  2. jcsd
  3. leright

    leright 1,214
    Gold Member

    I would think getting a condensed matter position would be easier since there is more money available at those programs, typically.
  4. You'd probably have a better shot at getting a fellowship or something... but I guess what I'm asking is if the pool of applicants is noticeably weaker in astrophysics? I'll take any advantage I can get at this point.
  5. leright

    leright 1,214
    Gold Member

    Why would you believe the pool of applicants is weaker in astrophysics?
  6. Because I've ready that astronomy/astrophysics programs typically accept applicants with much lower stats like Physics GRE as many applicants are from liberal arts school and such, so I assumed that a strong candidate in physics would have a better chance if applying to astrophysics. I don't really know, that's why I'm asking.
  7. I have no experience in this situation but I don't see how an astrophysics graduate program is going to lower their standards moreso than a high energy program. Other than the fact that HEP tends to involve more abstract, counter-intuitive mathematics, they are both difficult fields. What criteria do you have to believe that this is the case?

    I would be surprised to find out that this is actually true but now I am interested.
  8. Locrian

    Locrian 1,800
    Gold Member

    I agree with leright.
  9. By the AIP statistics, yes, astronomy programs are almost always less competitive (measured by admissions rates and average scores) than physics programs, including at schools where both departments are top 10.

    The one major potential exception to this is in fact Princeton, whose astrophysics graduate program is very small, very good, and very selective.

    Purely anecdotally, I've found astronomy types on average a little less capable than the general physics population. (I'm a physics student who does research in astronomy, so I have at least some perspective on this.) Of course, there are some brilliant astronomy students.

    If you're applying to a physics department, I doubt your subfield will make much difference one way or the other, unless it's a program that has few or no professors in your area of interest (and you wouldn't be foolish enough to apply there anyway). And heck, at my school, which has a large and excellent condensed matter program, the astrophysicists seem to be better funded these last few years; recent NSF and DOE budgets have not been good for everyone.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook