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Why is it hard to find an affordable college or university that offers an undergraduate astrophysics program?

I'm a senior in high school who wants to major in astrophysics and work in that field. The only colleges/universities that I can find that offer Astrophysics are really really expensive and I don't want to pay off loans for the rest of my life. stem women-in-stem astrophysics

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Lori’s Answer

Hi Kendralyn! From a quick look around, it appears that most schools would only offer a Bachelors in Physics. Some give the option to have an Area of Focus on Astrophysics. https://affordableschools.net/15-of-the-most-affordable-bachelors-degrees-in-astrophysics-aerospace-and-astronomy/

From a high level, I would say that it is pretty rare to get such a detailed level of focus on a bachelors degree - much more typical to get a general degree for a Bachelors and then start to become more and more specialized as you progress through graduate school. All that being said, you can certainly have focused elective classes as an undergraduate that are more in line with your focused interest.

If you have an idea of what specific types of astrophysics jobs you may be interested in, you could always start there and work backwards based on what kind of degrees those jobs are looking for (for example, you may be better suited with a Bachelors of Aerospace Engineering rather than a more theoretical Astrophysics focus). Or what you really love may require a Masters or PhD :-)

From looking at my alma mater Oklahoma State, we only offer general Physics as a degree program, or a double major in Physics and Engineering (http://physics.okstate.edu/www/engphys-double-major.html). You could always do general physics and then focus your electives / internships / research and lab work on Astrophysics to give yourself a more focused undergraduate degree.

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Marcio’s Answer

Hi Kendralyn,
Depending on your academic background, many universities have scholarships that you may be able to apply. Alternatively, in-state tuition is usually cheaper thus you could try with your local university. To work as an astrophysicist you don't necessarily need to get a degree in astrophysics. A degree in physics and astronomy are also possible career paths that you could follow to work in that field. I am a physicist working as an astronomer/astrophysicist.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions and good luck!

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