Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

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Aelfyre
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Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby Aelfyre » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:10 am UTC

ok, so here's the deal. 40 years old, never been to college (cancer at 17 put a dent in my Navy --> N.A.S.A. plans) and have after mucking about for 20 odd years now want to get a degree in something I actually enjoy.

I am in Real Estate and while I am no Donald Trump (TFG) I am reasonably sure I can squirrel away enough cash in the next couple years to relocate if necessary and get thru some college, I have a friend who is quite confident that I could obtain grants and/or scholarships after a year or so of school assuming I knock my classes out of the park, which I think is likely as I have always had a head for numbers and a deep rooted nerdcore affection for maths in general.

So I have been mulling it over as to what I want to get into, mechanical engineering came to mind, as well as a few others but in the end it has to be astrophysics, it has always had to be.

Can anyone suggest a good way to go about doing this? I assume this is not the kind of degree one can get online so I would need to go somewhere out of state (Live in FL) since my initial googling hasn't pulled up anywhere offering an Astrophysics degree here. (could be wrong, just started searching in earnest this morning)

Can anyone suggest a good school? I'm not a millionaire or anything like one so it isn't like "money is no object" but I also want a quality education so.. there's that.

but yeah, any advice would be welcome, particularly if any of you are dyed in the wool astrophysicists :)
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yurell
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby yurell » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:30 am UTC

Generally speaking (for Australia, at least) you don't get a degree in astrophysics — you get a degree in science (Bachelor of Science), with astrophysics being one of your majors (one bloody subject off ... still sore about that). Here you can do your Honours in astrophysics, though, so I'm not sure how that part works in the US.
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Eseell
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby Eseell » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:51 am UTC

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach has a space physics program, but it wouldn't be anywhere approaching inexpensive. My friends who did their SP degrees at the Prescott campus are mostly doing their doctoral studies now and seem satisfied with the program quality and their opportunities, but they also worked hard and are quite brilliant, so I'm sure that not all the credit goes to the university. I will say that the physics professors in Prescott are definitely top notch.
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby AvatarIII » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:05 am UTC

Aelfyre wrote:ok, so here's the deal. 40 years old, never been to college (cancer at 17 put a dent in my Navy --> N.A.S.A. plans) and have after mucking about for 20 odd years now want to get a degree in something I actually enjoy.

I am in Real Estate and while I am no Donald Trump (TFG) I am reasonably sure I can squirrel away enough cash in the next couple years to relocate if necessary and get thru some college, I have a friend who is quite confident that I could obtain grants and/or scholarships after a year or so of school assuming I knock my classes out of the park, which I think is likely as I have always had a head for numbers and a deep rooted nerdcore affection for maths in general.

So I have been mulling it over as to what I want to get into, mechanical engineering came to mind, as well as a few others but in the end it has to be astrophysics, it has always had to be.

Can anyone suggest a good way to go about doing this? I assume this is not the kind of degree one can get online so I would need to go somewhere out of state (Live in FL) since my initial googling hasn't pulled up anywhere offering an Astrophysics degree here. (could be wrong, just started searching in earnest this morning)

Can anyone suggest a good school? I'm not a millionaire or anything like one so it isn't like "money is no object" but I also want a quality education so.. there's that.

but yeah, any advice would be welcome, particularly if any of you are dyed in the wool astrophysicists :)


You actually could probably get a Physics/Astronomy degree online
I myself am studying for a BSc online with a UK university called The Open University. The degree I'm studying is called Natural Sciences, which is basically a general sciences degree, but can be specialised in Physics, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology or Environmental science depending on which modules you study.
There is no age limit, and no entry requirements, and believe it or not, they do accept international students, in fact a few of the modules I am currently studying have people from as far afield as New Zealand. it might be worth looking into.
i think the fees are about £5000pa full time (degree in 3 years) or £2500pa part time (degree in 6 years)

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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby doogly » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:43 pm UTC

You mostly want to look at Physics departments. Occasionally in very large programs Astronomy or Astrophysics will form a separate set of major requirements, but usually always within a Physics department. Mostly it is just a concentration - you take the same core courses in electricity and magnetism, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, etc, and then you have a handful of astro bonuses.
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Aelfyre
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby Aelfyre » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:12 pm UTC

Eseell wrote:Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach has a space physics program, but it wouldn't be anywhere approaching inexpensive. My friends who did their SP degrees at the Prescott campus are mostly doing their doctoral studies now and seem satisfied with the program quality and their opportunities, but they also worked hard and are quite brilliant, so I'm sure that not all the credit goes to the university. I will say that the physics professors in Prescott are definitely top notch.


I will check them out thank you! :) It'd be a real plus to stay in FL so I could continue to practice Real Estate and keep some income going while I was in school.

Eseell wrote:Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach has a space physics program, but it wouldn't be anywhere approaching inexpensive. My friends who did their SP degrees at the Prescott campus are mostly doing their doctoral studies now and seem satisfied with the program quality and their opportunities, but they also worked hard and are quite brilliant, so I'm sure that not all the credit goes to the university. I will say that the physics professors in Prescott are definitely top notch.


Same deal, if I could get a degree online that would be appealing as well. :)
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AvatarIII
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby AvatarIII » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:50 pm UTC

here's a list of modules that you can study as a US resident
http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/countries/USA.shtm
Briefly looking at it, all the modules required to get a BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences in Physics or Astronomy are there.

starslayer
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby starslayer » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:06 pm UTC

Since you're in Florida, I would take a look at the UF astronomy/physics programs. It'd be much cheaper than a private university.

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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby tooyoo » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:50 pm UTC

It might also be a good idea to take a look what sort of research a university is doing. E.g. even though University of Florida is not offering a specific degree in astrophysics, they have what looks like quite a bit of research in astrophysics. Some of that is bound to make its way into the undergraduate program (usually via electives).

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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby starslayer » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:31 pm UTC

tooyoo wrote:It might also be a good idea to take a look what sort of research a university is doing. E.g. even though University of Florida is not offering a specific degree in astrophysics, they have what looks like quite a bit of research in astrophysics. Some of that is bound to make its way into the undergraduate program (usually via electives).
UF does offer a degree in astrophysics, though they don't call it that; their BS in Astronomy has all the same type of material. About the only difference is that QM does not seem to be required. As doogly said, "astrophysics" degrees are almost universally physics degrees with a sprinkling of astronomy elective courses. Astronomy degrees are usually much the same as well, with just a touch more of an astronomy focus (for example, you don't do the advanced physics lab courses, you take astronomical ones, etc.).

SU3SU2U1
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:45 pm UTC

I'm confused as to your long-term goal. Do you just want to learn some astrophysics, or is the goal to launch a career of some sort?

If you just want to learn some astrophysics, start with MIT's open courseware and work through it before you decide to layout the money for a college degree. Its possible there is more than enough there to scratch that itch, at no cost to yourself.

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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby Aelfyre » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

SU3SU2U1 wrote:I'm confused as to your long-term goal. Do you just want to learn some astrophysics, or is the goal to launch a career of some sort?

If you just want to learn some astrophysics, start with MIT's open courseware and work through it before you decide to layout the money for a college degree. Its possible there is more than enough there to scratch that itch, at no cost to yourself.


Well that is certainly an option I will look into. If nothing else it would allow me to get my feet wet and by the time I am prepared to enroll somewhere (looking 2014ish) I'd have a nice head start.

I'd love to make a career out of it. Not sure how viable that is just getting started now at my age but worst case scenario I end up with a degree in a field I love. :)
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SU3SU2U1
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:58 am UTC

You should know that making a career out of it is very difficult- most astrophysics phds never find full-time work doing astrophysics and end up in insurance, finance, etc.

Another thing to consider- I have had people informally audit classes I have taught. They talked to me before hand, told me they planned to sit in, and asked if I would be willing to grade assignments they handed in, even though they weren't enrolled at the university. I was willing to grade an extra assignment, so they ended up with the joy of learning, though not the official course credits.

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yurell
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Re: Need some advice about getting an astrophysics degree

Postby yurell » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:01 am UTC

SU3SU2U1 wrote:You should know that making a career out of it is very difficult- most astrophysics phds never find full-time work doing astrophysics and end up in insurance, finance, etc.


Same is true for physics in general.
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