Studying Astronomy and Astrophysics in the U.S.

Astronomy is defined by the Oxford dictionary as the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. Basically, it deals with the study of celestial objects like stars, planets, asteroids, and the like. Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that deals with the physical nature of celestial objects, and the application of various physics theories and laws to understand astronomical observations. To study astronomy or astrophysics, a student needs a sincere liking for the subject, and a flair for physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Having an educational background relative to what you want to study may or may not be needed. Every college has its different set of entry requirements, so students should carefully assess what requirements they fulfill, and apply accordingly. Several colleges all over the world offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate courses in astronomy, and even provide different electives that give students a well-rounded education.

Whether you’re a high-school student exploring options or an undergraduate student thinking of going to grad school, it can be very difficult to zero in on one particular place where you’d want to study. There are several things you need to consider―the location of the school, the tuition fees, the cost of living in that area, availability of scholarships and assistance, and obviously, the faculty for your choice of subjects. If you’re looking for the best schools in the United States where you can study astronomy or astrophysics, look no further. This list compiles the fifteen best colleges, and tells you all that you need to know along with the basic entry requirements and the kinds of programs offered.

Top 15 Colleges For Astronomy and Astrophysics

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Even though MIT does not have a conventional department of Astronomy, it does offer different programs in astronomy and astrophysics at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels through its Department of Physics as well as the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

2. Harvard University
Harvard University offers courses in astronomy and astrophysics both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate students largely prefer pursuing the astrophysics concentration, or a joint concentration with the University’s Physics Department, or the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. At the graduate level, no separate master’s degree is offered. The research-oriented and experimental program leads to a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

3. Stanford University
Courses for undergraduate and graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics are offered mainly through the Department of Physics. Stanford does not have a separate degree in astronomy or astrophysics at the undergraduate level, but students can choose either subject while majoring in physics or electrical engineering. Graduate students can study astronomy and astrophysics through the Department of Physics, the Department of Applied Physics and the Department of Electrical Engineering.

4. University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley, is renowned for its Department of Astronomy that offers courses in a variety of areas relating to astronomy and astrophysics. Courses are offered at the undergraduate and graduate level and range from observational astrophysics to radio astronomy.