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Top Major for future in Astrophysics

  1. Oct 21, 2009 #1
    Finally I am almost done with my lower level undergraduate work, finishing up the calculus sequence and physics this semester along with linear algebra. As people who have read my thread before know I very nonplussed with my current schoo. I think I am indeed transferring after figuring out there was another public university close by that has some good majors but I really need help deciding what to spend my last 2 years in college studying, I'm pretty much equidistant in time from all the majors I am interested in after this semester so here is the score:

    Goal: Graduate program in astrophysics, particularly interested in extrasolar planets and star systems, would like to emphasis computational techniques in my grad work

    Option 1: Major in Applied Computational Maths at school A, which is about a 45 minute commute. They have Ph.D. in Computational Maths at this school so I figure it might be feasible to get some research under my belt, but my physics would be weak comparatively, and they offer nearly nothing in Astro.

    Option 2: Physics at school A. Just a regular general physics program, there research areas are completely orthogonal to my interests so I don't know if I have much of chance to do anything relevant. But perhaps there would be some research possible, in some other area of physics. Again, no astro classes.

    Option 3: Astrophysics at school B, which is a large major public research university. If I could get in, I think I have a good shot, tons of cool classes, research in my fields of interests,etc. Clearly my heart is with this option but the school is far away, 2 hours, I am pretty tied to my current area for various reasons, not the least of which is my gf is still in school out here and we live together. If I did get in I don't know if I could make it happen, I don't know how much I'd be will to give up.

    So which is the best option? Is option 3 >> options 1&2 that if I got in I'd HAVE to take it? What are my chances of doing astro with options 1&2?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2009 #2
    It's an easy path from option 2) to astronomy grad school. The only thing that you have to make sure of is to have some research background. Pretty much anything in physics has something to do with astrophysics, so that shouldn't be too difficult. I knew an astrophysicist that got a grant from the Navy to study accretion disks. It seems that the Navy is *really* interested in studying how sound waves move through fluids. It also works the other way (i.e. if you have a lot of ocean physics experience, this could be useful for astrophysics grad school.)

    1) is a bit of a jump, but it's not a huge jump if you have some high performance computing experience and take some physics classes.
  4. Oct 21, 2009 #3


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    Have you spoken of this with your GF? Perhaps you could both gain from a transfer to #3, live close to the campus, and have a lot more time to spend together. If you could both improve your academic paths from such a transfer, why not explore it? I passed up a pretty nice scholarship to a school with a top-notch astrophysics program, in part because of travel costs and familial ties. Things worked out OK in the end, but there are times that I wished I had jumped on that opportunity.
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