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I was planning on majoring in Astrophysics in college with a PhD, but the college I was planning on attending does not offer astrophysics as a major. However, they offer physics as a major and have astrophysics as a minor. Is it the same?

I am asking this question because it will ultimately determine my future. I was planning on majoring in astrophysics because I find the subject matter simply fascinating. The reason why I have my heart set on this particular college is because I was planning on obtaining a double major, a bachelors in robotics engineering and a PhD in astrophysics. I've been told that with PhD's you have a main area of focus that becomes the essence of your degree, but I'm not sure about the validity of that. Please help. #physics #double-major #astrophysics #science-phd

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Aleksandr’s Answer

Hi Braden, I'm a bit confused by your question, but I will try to unpack it. Is it that you want to go to the same school to get your bachelor's and PhD? Then I recommend you major in physics or robotics with a minor in astrophysics. But, realize that you can minor in other domains as well. I would see what skills are necessary to be a good astrophysicists (e.g. specific math, statistics, computer programming, etc) and consider minoring in that. Once you get into your PhD program, you will have general classes on physics/astrophysics for example, but then your research will be on a very specific area within that. You can not however do your bachelor's degree and PhD degree at the same time, which I was confused by your question.


Hope that helps.

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Joseph’s Answer

Although this question is old, the site has suggested I provide an answer. There's a number of other more recent questions that may also be worth looking at, but this question delves into a couple of things that are slightly unique and are worth noting - it seems to be asking about the situation in the UK, where the major-minor system doesn't really work the way it does in the US. Generally undergraduate degrees in the UK have just a single subject focus "major", and having a subject as a US-style "minor" is quite rare. There are some dual-or joint- honours courses where you can pick 2 entirely separate subjects to study at the same time, but mostly you pick a single subject. However, there are a number of courses that offer a subject-specific specialisation described almost like a "minor" - so for physics courses specialising in astrophysics, they'll often be described as "Physics with Astrophysics", "Physics and Cosmology" or that sort of thing - but that's only as a subset of Physics - a separate subject "Robotics Engineering with Astrophysics" won't be available like that.
It's worth noting that in broad terms, the syllabus between different astrophysics degrees will be quite similar, and it's not necessarily true that a pure "Astrophysics" course is going to be any more subject-specific than a "Physics with Astrophysics" course - both will likely feature a amount of core general physics modules building towards an array of more specialist astrophysics modules. You'll also find astrophysics courses listed variously as either Astrophysics, Cosmology, or Astronomy - and while these titles do technically relate to slightly different subfields, the taught material is not necessarily specific to that subfield. Personally, I did a "Physics with Astrophysics" BSc, and ended up doing more observational astronomy during my degree than someone that picked an "Astronomy" BSc at another uni.

Coming back to the idea of "double major robotics engineering with astrophysics" - there may be an option to do this under a joint-honours program - and if that's a joint honours program at a uni that offers BSc Robotics engineering and a BSc "Physics with Astrophysics" course, you may be able to study bits of both - although I suspect you'd end up having to do a lot of the core physics modules and only a small number of the astro-specific modules, once you factor in splitting your time between that and robotics.

That all being said, what the question seems to be talking about is a Robotics BSc followed by an Astrophysics PhD. As the other answer says, you don't do these at the same time as "double major" - but swapping subjects between undergrad study and PhD is totally possible, although you'll need a pretty good justification for the change of direction and probably further study to bring you up to the right level of subject knowledge - this may be where a postgrad Masters' course would help. After my Astro BSc, I swapped to Nuclear technology and did a Masters in that - so a good route in this case may be something like BSc Robotics, MSc Astrophysics, PhD in Astrophysics (maybe featuring some robotics elements if you choose)

Hopefully by this point in time the original question asker has already gone through all this and is in the middle of that PhD already - so if you're still around, you could update the question on how things played out for you - but if not, I hope this answer helps anyone else who may be interested in studying Astrophysics in the UK university system.
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