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Which school?

  1. Dec 23, 2003 #1

    I'm a 2nd year student @ warwick university (UK) currently studying a masters in physics. I eventually plan on studying for a PhD in the states in Astrophysics..

    Not many people seem to know around here so I thought I'd give this forum a shot.. Which schools in the US are well known for post graduate studies in Astrophysics?

    Thanks :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2004 #2
    Hmm anybody? :(
  4. Jan 15, 2004 #3


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    These are the top ten graduate physics programs according to the National Research Council (NRC). There is probably some debate as to the accuracy.

    Harvard 1
    Princeton 2
    M.I.T. 3
    U.C.-Berkeley 3
    CalTech 5
    Cornell 6
    U. of Chicago 7
    U. of Illinois 8
    Stanford 9
    U.C.-Santa Barbara 10

    I don't know how dedicated most of these might be to astrophysics, but Princeton and U. of Chicago have a significant dedication to it.

    Not everyone gets into the best schools, I sure didn't. There are lots of other good ones. I know Penn State is trying to make a name for itself in astrophysics now. Sometimes it's good to get in on a new effort, sometimes it's not.

    Other than that, try and find out which Universities have associations with the most productive observatories. They wouldn't bother with the relationship if they didn't have a good program.

    Be warned. These are the hardest spots to get in a graduate physics program. You will have a lot of competition.

  5. Jan 15, 2004 #4
    The nice thing about Harvard and MIT are that they are both in the same city and they are in the same city as the Harvard-Smithosian Center for Astrophysics.
  6. Jan 15, 2004 #5
    Johns Hopkins University has a decent astronomy/astrophysics program. The Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute is across the street from the physics building.
  7. Jan 15, 2004 #6
    FIT isn't that bad. It's right next to KSC. Although I would say there has been a big push towards HEP the last few years.

  8. Jan 16, 2004 #7
    I live in Indiana, and both Indiana University and Purdue University have very respectable Astrophysics programs.
  9. Jan 17, 2004 #8


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    I'd recommend Johns Hopkins or M.I.T
  10. Jan 19, 2004 #9


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    I recommend Caltech, but the answer depends on what type of astrophysics you're interested in. Its a huge field.
  11. Jan 19, 2004 #10
    what are some of the most major/popular fields in astrophysics anyways?
  12. Jan 19, 2004 #11


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    Various types of cosmology (galaxy formation, CMB, very early universe,...)

    Stellar evolution




    Relativistic astro (theory)

    Probably more...
  13. Jan 20, 2004 #12
    Yes thanks for the feed back, it's been very helpful

    I was thinking maybe choosing something like stellar or galactic astrophysics.. I'll need to do more thinking. But in the time being i'll definitly look at those school which have been listed already...
  14. Jan 21, 2004 #13
    I attend Purdue and though the Astrophysics program is not as large as at some schools, it is growing. There's a lot of work being done in the study of gamma and x-ray sources.
  15. Jan 22, 2004 #14

    A couple of years ago I was in your shoes, wanting to do a PhD and also study in the states. I ended up staying in the UK because the cost of studying in the states was prohibitive, and also I'd already done a Masters course, so the thought of spending 2 years redoing all the stuff I'd already done was more than a little off-putting.

    I have no intention of bursting your bubble - if you really want to go to the States then go for it. Think very hard about what specific area you want to study in (Galactic, Extragalactic, numerical/observational cosmology etc.) then find out who in the States is really well known for that (someone in the research department at your uni will probably be able to help you) and go there rather than picking an institution solely on their academic merit. Supervisors at PhD level are all-important: trust me! MIT and Johns Hopkins may be very prestigious, but the estimated living costs for an international student at MIT are $55,000 per year. So think very hard about the ideal project for you before you apply.

    That's not very positive, I know. But these things are realities for UK students wanting to study in the States, so it's worth thinking it through and being sure, IMHO.

  16. Jan 22, 2004 #15
    Yes exactly, I've been thinking about it for the past 5 years. I think it's one of these things in my life I just HAVE to do since you only live once I might as well give it a shot.
  17. Jan 27, 2004 #16
    That is a great way to think of it Baggio. exguy are you in the Astrophysics program at Purdue, and if you are-is it quality teaching and difficult?
  18. Jan 27, 2004 #17
    Thanks, I like the sound of caltech, people that i have been speaking to have recommended it along with MIT. I'm going to try and get some sort of internship in industry in the US, i'll try for this summer but i think i'll have a better chance next summer since most of the deadlines have already passed..
  19. Feb 2, 2004 #18
    Nope, just in physics. There is no autonomous astrophysics program. They are beginning to offer more course in astrophysics. There's a new one this semester dealing with high-energy astrophys.
  20. Feb 2, 2004 #19
    Good Grad Schools

    This is sort of a late remark to the question of good grad schools for astrophysics study, but I wanted to put some advice up. It isn't based on my own education, but on my ex-husband's and our many friends' experiences. Don't worry about going to one of the "best" schools unless you want to have a real high-flying job and need the extra prestige-boost a big-name school would give. If you just want to do physics, then almost any doctoral program will work for you. If you have your eye on community college teaching, where you can be a very big fish with your PhD, or a research job at a non-governmental business, then going to a less-prestigious school will be fine.

    You can get a top-notch education and do really worthy research at a typical state university...you can get a terrible education and do crummy work at a big-name school...and vice-versa. My ex went to the U of Arizona for his doctorate and got a post-doc at NASA Goddard. Many, many companies, NASA, and universities and even some hospitals courted him, trying to get him, based on his really innovative research, on his good personality, and on his ability to get top security clearances. The head of the science faculty at the community college here isn't getting published, no, isn't doing much research, but that wasn't his aim...he went to LSU & got a doctorate.

    Maybe this is getting too long...just wanted to encourage those seeking doctorates that once you get the piece of paper, once you do good research, you can do really well in realizing your dreams if they are modest dreams. Thank you.
  21. Feb 3, 2004 #20
    thanks, that is good advice. I'll keep that in mind
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