How to become an astrophysis
An overview of the right universities and courses of study
If you are interested in studying astrophysics, you must definitely meet some formal requirements in order to be admitted to the university. A distinction is made between the requirements for a bachelor's degree and the entry criteria for the master’s degree.
At the moment there is no bachelor's degree offered only in the field of astrophysics. If you are interested in this range of topics, you can switch to the physics or astronomy courses. Some universities expressly offer the choice of astrophysics as a major in their bachelor's degree in physics.
- Completed first degree (Bachelor or comparable degree) in a related subject area of physics or astronomy
- If applicable, letter of motivation
- If necessary, participation in the selection process / selection interview
When studying at a university, it is usually not enough to simply meet the formal requirements. This will allow you to study, but if you want to complete it successfully and base your professional career on it, you should also bring some personal qualities with you. This includes:
- Interested in physics
- Interested in astronomy
- Analytical thinking skills
- Mathematical understanding
- Logical thinking
- Good general understanding of science
Numerus Clausus (NC) for astrophysics
Since the astrophysics degree is usually offered as a master’s degree, there is no numerus clausus. The NC is always used when there are more applicants for a course than there are free places available. In the departments of physics and, above all, astrophysics, the influx of students is currently not so great that the university does not need any additional aids when selecting its applicants.
Therefore, the astrophysics course is not restricted in admission and can therefore be studied without an NC. Depending on the university, you may need to have completed your first degree with a grade of 2.5 or better for a master’s degree.
The content of astrophysics studies at many universities is very closely related to classical physics. It goes very deeply into the special science of astrophysics, so that you can only decide on a physics degree with a focus on astrophysics in the bachelor's degree. The pure astrophysics study is only possible in the master’s degree. The topics of astronomy, mathematics and physics are connected with each other. You investigate physical laws in a cosmological context. Theory is developed and checked and models are developed.
For this reason, you may come across the following content during your studies:
- Theoretical physics
- Practical physics
- Plasma physics
- Nuclear and Particle Physics
- Physics of the star atmosphere
In addition to specialist knowledge from the fields of physics, astronomy and astrophysics, the course also conveys a great deal of practical knowledge. You learn to check the theoretical basics in practice and spend a lot of time in the laboratory. Research is just as much a part of astrophysics as technical skills.
There is currently no pure bachelor's degree in astrophysics. A maximum of six semester physics studies with a bachelor's degree in which the astrophysics specialization is possible during the course of study is possible.
- Graduation: Master of Science (M.Sc.)
- Duration: 4 semesters
- Type of study: Full time
- Particularities: Depending on the university, various practical phases and projects or a stay abroad are integrated into the course of study.
The study of astrophysics is very scientifically oriented. Most graduates therefore aim for a career in research and science after graduation. For this reason, it is an advantage if you do a doctorate after completing your master’s degree and continue your education with a doctorate. This not only increases your reputation and your skills, but also opens up numerous career opportunities for you.
Basically, the first decision you have to make as an astrophysics graduate is whether you want to stay in research and go into business. Many companies in the fields of electrical engineering, energy technology or device construction also employ their own research offices in which astrophysicists are sought-after experts. Most university graduates work at universities or research institutes.
Astrophysicists can usually work for the following employers:
- Research institutes
- Energy technology company
- Mechanical engineering company
- Electrical engineering company
- Science journalist
It is always difficult to make binding statements about the salary in a job. Astrophysics makes no difference. What do astrophysicists earn? There are many different factors that can affect income in a job. For example, it matters which degree you have graduated from. With a master’s degree or even a doctorate, your earnings will be higher right from the start. It is also important which company you work for. Do you work in the private sector or in research? Universities and research institutes usually pay a little less than the private sector. Of course, there are fewer positions available for astrophysicists in business.
Basically, it can be said that with a completed astrophysics degree you can expect a starting salary of between 2,500 and 4,500 euros gross per month.
However, your chances of development as an astrophysicist are very good. With increasing professional experience, of course, your salary also increases, so that in astrophysics, depending on the employer, you can earn up to 7,000 euros gross per month.
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