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Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major

  1. May 4, 2010 #1
    Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)


    I am currently working on my AAS in Physics and am aspiring to be an Astronomer. The area that I live in does not have any colleges which have astrophysics as a major. I will be transferring to a University in a year or so to complete my Bachelor's and I was wondering if I should just stay local and do physics, or if I should relocate to another city or state to do astrophysics. Does it make a major difference having a degree in physics vs astrophysics when working on your graduate degrees in Astronomy/Space Sciences? Is it worth the move, or should I stay and just do a regular physics degree? Thanks for your answers!

    Here is a list of the courses for the physics major (junior and senior year) at a school near to me:


    * Modern Physics (3SH)
    * Modern Physics Laboratory (1SH)
    * Mathematical Physics (3SH)
    * Optics (3SH)
    * Free Electives (6SH)


    * Quantum Mechanics (4SH)
    * Electronics for Scientists with Lab (4SH)
    * Classical Mechanics (4SH)
    * Free Elective (3SH)


    * Electricity and Magnetism (4SH)
    * Advanced Physics Laboratory (2SH)
    * Free Elective (3SH)
    * Free Electives (6SH)


    * Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (3SH)
    * Advanced Physics Topics (4SH)
    * Physics Research (3SH)
    * Free Electives (4SH)

    And a list of courses for a school that offers Astrophysics (junior and senior year):

    Junior Year


    HUM 2052 Civilization 2
    PHY 3011 Physical Mechanics
    PHY 3060 Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory and Statistical Mechanics
    SPS 3020 Methods and Instrumentation
    SPS 3030 Orbital Mechanics

    MTH 3201 Boundary Value Problems
    PHY 3035 Quantum Mechanics
    PHY 3440 Electromagnetic Theory
    Free Elective
    Restricted Elective (MTH 3xxx)

    Senior Year

    MAE 3061 Fluid Mechanics 1 or
    OCE 3030 Fluid Mechanics
    PHY 4020 Optics
    PHY 4021 Experiments in Optics
    SPS 4010 Astrophysics 1
    SPS 4200 Senior Seminar 1

    Humanities Elective
    Technical Elective or Undergraduate Research


    SPS 4020 Astrophysics 2
    SPS 4025 Introduction to Space Plasma Physics** or
    SPS 4035 Comparative Planetology**
    SPS 4110 Senior Lab
    SPS 4210 Senior Seminar 2

    Social Science Elective
    Technical Elective or Undergraduate Research
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2010 #2
    Re: Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)

    That depends on what you want to do with it. If you plan on going to grad school, getting a degree in general physics won't hinder your ability to get into an astrophysics graduate program.

    In fact, Johns Hopkins University states that they do not offer an undergrad degree in astrophysics because they feel it's better to get a strong foundation in physics before specializing in astrophysics.
  4. May 5, 2010 #3
    Re: Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)

    Thanks Jack :) I want to go into Astrophysics/Space Sciences in grad school and I was wondering if it would be a smooth transition with Physics for undergrad or if Astrophysics would give me a major advantage. I really appreciate your answer!
  5. May 5, 2010 #4
    Re: Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)

    In fact, here is exactly what Johns Hopkins says:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  6. May 6, 2010 #5
    Re: Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)

    Thanks again Jack! Very helpful! I've decided to do physics for undergrad. :approve:
  7. May 22, 2010 #6
    Re: Physics vs Astrophysics as a 4yr major :)

    Well good news...the school I will be transferring to will have astrophysics I & II as electives under the physics major...they previously had astronomy I solely. I have another question now...but I think it needs a different thread.
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