Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
Studying in the field
For decades, the Big Bang Theory has stimulated the imagination and the curiosity of mankind, while instigating heated debates between Creationists and Evolutionists. One of the oldest sciences, Astronomy is concerned with the Universe and all of which it is comprised, dovetailed with the study of Physics which studies the fundamental laws of nature. Other disciplines have intrinsically become major players in the field of Astronomy such as chemistry, computer science, and statistics. As one looks out at the evening sky he or she often wonders how our galaxy evolved, how the stars were formed, how many galaxies really do exist, and how mankind came to exist. Astronomy, through the use of sophisticated telescopes, computer strategies, the knowledge of chemistry and statistical analysis, seeks to answer mankind's most profound questions.
Graduate degrees in Astronomy are offered at both the Master's and Graduate levels. Those interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Astronomy should possess a strong undergraduate background in either physics or astronomy, along with a keen understanding of mathematics. Requisite courses within Astronomy curriculums focus on the following topics: Atomic and Molecular Astrophysics, Structure and Dynamics of Galaxies, Stellar Atmospheres, and Instrumentation and Techniques. In addition, various schools provide their own observatories or have obtained special privileges with renowned National Observatories. Supplementing the graduate Astronomy curriculum, a thesis topic is designed to evaluate each student's ability to present his or her research results logically and coherently. Depending on your area of interest, research multiple programs to determine which program will fit your needs.
Job opportunities in the field
A career in Astronomy, while providing monetary rewards, also provides one with a sense of accomplishment for having contributed to mankind's knowledge of the cosmos. Although not every Astronomy graduate is guaranteed to possess a working title of 'Astronomer', various career fields continue to rely on the unique thinking and problem-solving abilities of astronomy majors. Traditional careers in Astronomy include: industrial or governmental research laboratory staff, planetarium and museum staff, science librarians, technical representatives of various organizations, and college and university faculty. For more information on careers in Astronomy, visit the American Astronomical Society's website: http://aas.org/.
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