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Programs Physics or Astronomy undergraduate program?

  1. Feb 28, 2017 #1
    I got a guaranteed slot in a university that offers a physics program but I'm doubtful if that is the right choice. I could take this physics program or I could maybe move to another city and study astronomy there.

    I'm interested in particle physics, mechanics, astrophysics and electromagnetism, all of these seems to favor a undergraduate program in physics.

    What should I major in? Does it even matter which one I pick?

    Always wanted to be an astronomer, problem is it's quite expensive having to relocate to another city as opposed to studying in my home, and I already have a guaranteed slot so that is good.

    Any thoughts? I could you give the program courses if you want to but it's in Swedish.

    I did study the physics program but dropped out due to medical reasons, so I have the chance to return now in fall, that might give me a huge advantage because I know what to expect, problem is I will be 20 and feel older than others.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2017 #2


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    I can't speak directly to the Swedish system, but as a general rule, my experience is that you should avoid specializing too much as an undergraduate. It's very straight forward to get into astronomy for graduate school with an undergraduate degree in physics. You may encounter some difficulties if you try to get into a different branch of physics for graduate school with an undergraduate degree in astronomy. (In general I wouldn't expect these to be insurmountable. Astronomy degrees tend to be physics-heavy.) Given the choice, more diversity in your education is better. You might even discover something else you love, but don't even know about yet.

    The cost issue would sway me largely in favour of the physics program. The more debt you can avoid, the better. Less time working in a part-time job to pay for school mean more time to dedicate to your studies too.

    With respect to being twenty... don't worry about it at all. You're a couple of years older than your classmates. I know at that age it feels like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it really isn't. And you can always look for people closer to your own age for socialization if that's an issue.
  4. Feb 28, 2017 #3
    I'm 1 year older. If I study physics, will I be lagging behind if I decide to specialize in astronomy compared to those that picked astronomy as undergraduate?

    Is astronomy more limited regarding careers too?
  5. Feb 28, 2017 #4
    I think if you major in physics, you'll do better on the PGRE which will better your odds into getting a better astro or physics graduate program. At least at ASU, the astronomy program leaves you very weak in the mathematics and barely skims the surface of quantum.
  6. Feb 28, 2017 #5


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    If you take some electives in astronomy you should be fine coursewise. Some schools in the US for example actually have physics and astronomy in the same department (usually for historical reasons) and/or may have a concentration on astronomy within the physics major rather than a separate astronomy major.
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