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Physics or Astronomy major for becoming an astronomer?

  1. Nov 26, 2016 #1
    I am a senior in high school, I am applying for universities right now. I have wanted to pursue astronomy for several years now, but I am wondering if I should major in astronomy or physics as an undergraduate. I've read online that physics major as undergraduate is an option to pursue a ph.D in astronomy, and that it can be more useful if you decide to change your course of study. (With the new presidency, I'm just afraid fundings for astronomy will be cut, or if it ever happens where I lose interest in astronomy for whatever reason, majoring in physics would be better able to serve me).

    So, which path should I take as an undergraduate? Currently I have applied to U.Illinois for major in astronomy, and plan on doing so for rest of my schools, but I'm not certain yet.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2016 #2

    symbolipoint

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    Physics is your (almost) best choice. You found and expressed most of the reasons. Consider, how are the chances for you to find a job or career as an astronomer? Can you find something else in Physics, or also including Engineering, which may have more opportunity?
     
  4. Nov 26, 2016 #3

    Choppy

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    I agree.

    As an undergraduate it's generally better not to specialize too much too soon. There are really not that many people employed as professional astronomers - regardless of who happens to be president, so when thinking about your education it will be important to have some contingencies in case plan A doesn't work out.
     
  5. Nov 26, 2016 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    You want physics if you want to go to grad school in astronomy. You will need to pass a qualifying exam, and in physics & astronomy combined departments, there is a concern about admitting astronomy members, under the thinking they will have a harder time with a physics qual.
     
  6. Nov 26, 2016 #5
    Ok. one more question. I live in washington state, and the best university here by far is University of Washington-Seattle. I heard physics isn't top notch there, but the astronomy department is pretty good. In that case, which major should I sign up for? Maybe double major? (yes, it's easy to say double major, doing it is extremely hard)
     
  7. Nov 26, 2016 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Is your plan to ask the same question again and again until you get a different answer?
     
  8. Nov 26, 2016 #7

    symbolipoint

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    Same answer. PHYSICS is what you are most interested in; you might also study some Astronomy courses, but keep your mind open to studies that will make you employable for more or other opportunities.
     
  9. Nov 29, 2016 #8

    eri

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    Double major in physics and astronomy, at U Washington if you can. They have excellent programs, and students of theirs have gone very far in the field. A friend of mine who did her undergrad there is now a prof at a great school.
     
  10. Nov 29, 2016 #9
    Ok thank you.
     
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