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Question & Answer: Universities offering Graduate Degree in Astrophysics

Question

I always read your article under ‘Education Q&A’ and undergo in details.

Your guidance is very useful to the society.

My son is 15 and studying in 10th grade in CBSE pattern in Abu Dhabi Indian School. He is very good in Maths and Physics. He will continue 11th and 12th in Abudhabi under same pattern. Since the age of 8 he has decided to become a space scientist and wants to be part of NASA or equivalent. He wants to pursue career in Astrophysics. Can you let me know what options he will have after 12th for undergraduation and post graduation in Astrophysics? Which are the good institutes in India and also in Europe or USA? Which entrance exams need to be faced? From now onwards what preparations / directions need to be taken?

Answer

The field of astrophysics is fascinating and interesting with opportunities for research and study. It deals with the study of physical properties of celestial bodies and requires substantial level of physics. Astrophysics is the study of the universe and all that it contains. Possessing proficiency in Physics and Math’s is an essential pre-requisite. Therefore, it is important that there is a strong foundation in these two subjects. While applying for astrophysics you should also research astronomy as the content in the two subjects is very similar.

Graduate Degree in Astrophysics

He could either pursue a graduate degree in physics and specialize in astrophysics at post graduate or you could do a bachelor of science with a major in astrophysics. Whichever path he chooses to follow it is important that your son reads extensively and explores the possibility of doing an internship or a project in this field. I would also suggest you visit the website of Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics to get to know more on the subject.

In addition to his academic grades and SAT scores, for the USA, your son will need to demonstrate proficiency outside the classroom by way of extracurricular activities and internships. At 15 years of age, he is ideally positioned to work on his CV and differentiate it from the thousands who will apply for admission to an American University.

I strongly recommend that you consult a college counselor to identify a school which matches his interests and also make recommendations on how to build on his profile. Some universities to keep in mind are Caltech, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, Boston University, Princeton, Imperial, Oxford and Manchester to name a few that offer this course. In India one of the more reputable institutes is the IIA (Indian Institute of Astrophysics).

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