1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics vs Astrophysics

  1. Jul 21, 2015 #1
    I know this has been discussed before, but I wanted some opinions on my specific situation :)

    I have take a less traditional route through undergrad so far; right now I'm a chemistry major in my second year of undergrad, but it's looking like I'll be here for three more years instead of two. I know I want to study astrophysics in graduate school, but my concern is whether to major in it now or major in straight physics instead.

    I plan on keeping my chemistry major and adding the physics/astro on as a double major so the next three years will be pretty tight (I'll be taking genphysics this fall semester). The load itself doesn't bother me, I've had to handle tough course loads already, but I'm drawn to astro because it does have a few less courses than physics.

    Astro covers the fundamentals such as Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Thermal Physics, and Quantum Mechanics, but excludes Experimental Modern Physics, Computational Physics, and Modern Instrumentation. The physics major also requires that I take at least one course out of Optics, Nuclei and Particles, or Solid State Physics.

    I guess my question for you all would be, do you think that majoring in Astro would put me at a disadvantage while apply to grad schools? Or will the double major make up for the fact that Astro covers a few less classes? Of course, I'll meet with an advisor at my school to get their opinion too, but if anyone has a slightly similar experience or can offer advice I would greatly appreciate it! Sorry for the essay
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2015 #2
    Majoring in physics and then specializing in astrophysics is better than majoring in astrophysics and realizing you prefer to work in another area of physics. And, being your second year, it's likely that your research interests will change over time.
  4. Jul 21, 2015 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I agree with axmls.

    When it comes to undergrad, too much specialization can hurt you. It's odd, for example that your astrophysics track would omit a course in computational physics.
  5. Jul 22, 2015 #4
    As above, plus nuclei and particles is probably useful contextual info for an astrophysicist in terms of cosmology and stellar nuclear reactions. Also the instrumentation class is probably quite helpful if you go observational for fixing **** when it breaks.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook