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Is physics safer than astronomy (graduate level)?

  1. Sep 25, 2012 #1
    Hi guys,

    I wanna first let everyone know that my upper level physics classes are going really well so far - I was definitely panicking for no reason and thank you to all who reassured me. I was wondering about grad school for astronomy vs physics. I have heard that it's better to do physics rather than astronomy even if you're into astronomy because physics is more general, more intense, and you can do astronomy with it too whereas astronomy grad school shoehorns you into astronomy and its tough to find a job as a physicist if you did astronomy. Is there any truth to this? And if so, what subjects in physics (Nuclear is one guess of mine, although I'm not absolutely sure) should one specialize in if one wants to keep their options open for getting an astrophysics/astronomy gig should the opportunity present itself? Or will any subject in physics do? Thanks for any help
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2012 #2


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    Applying for jobs (with a PhD in physics and a dissertation in astrophysics), I found that employers assume a physicist can do astronomy but do not assume an astronomer can do physics. I was told several times that I was not a serious candidate for a physics position because I was an astronomer (and had to change my CV and cover letters to emphasize the fact that my PhD was, in fact, in physics, as a result). If you want to leave your options open for doing astrophysics for your dissertation, major in physics in college. You don't specialize before grad school, and you need a physics major to be prepared for grad school in astronomy anyway.
  4. Sep 26, 2012 #3
    thanks - just to clarify though, my question was about grad school and you indeed seem to have answered it toward the beginning of your post but then toward the end you gave me a bit of an impression that you thought i was asking about undergrad? or were you just covering both bases? because i was specifically asking about the path taken in grad school and then the way you are perceived after grad school - astronomy vs physics.
  5. Sep 27, 2012 #4
    I would recommend going to grad school for physics rather than astronomy for all the reasons you listed.

    From my experience, the physics Ph.D's have an easier time finding jobs that the Astro Ph.D's.
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