What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

tweetie_brid
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What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

Postby tweetie_brid » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:01 pm

I fell in love with astronomy, by being an amateur astronomer the last couple years. I originally got a BS in physics several years ago , but choose to software engineer after college.

I now want to go to grad school for astrophysics. What is it like. Is it exciting and romantic? Do you get to travel to exotic locations to watch solar eclipses? Do you get to go to Chile or Hawaii to do research on solar flares?

Will you eventually be forced to be a professor or can you get a job in industry or JPL, or NASA?

It seems like my dream job.

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Izaac
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Re: What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

Postby Izaac » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:50 am

This is precisely the reason why most French freshmen (global phenomenon, anyone?) in physics want to do astrophysics. They picture themselves going to exotic places to observe black holes with big telescopes, ten months a year.
And as soon as you tell them about learning C++, they throw up.

bfollinprm
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Re: What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:37 am

tweetie_brid wrote:I fell in love with astronomy, by being an amateur astronomer the last couple years. I originally got a BS in physics several years ago , but choose to software engineer after college.

I now want to go to grad school for astrophysics. What is it like. Is it exciting and romantic? Do you get to travel to exotic locations to watch solar eclipses? Do you get to go to Chile or Hawaii to do research on solar flares?


Nah, it's a job. There are conference trips, but the travelling is mostly to places you wouldn't want to vacation (arid deserts). If you want glory travel, go for particle physics (though that might be a dying field in the next couple years).

Will you eventually be forced to be a professor or can you get a job in industry or JPL, or NASA?


You will eventually probably be forced out of academia; there's loads of pressure on getting professorships or research positinos at JPL. You'll probably end up being a software engineer again. Search yourself, if grad school is an end to itself for you, go for it; otherwise seriously consider staying an amateur (they have all the fun anyways).

gracebland
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Re: What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

Postby gracebland » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:58 am

If you are forced out of academia you should follow that. Getting a job in research positions at JPL is not an easy task. You'll probably end up being a software engineer again. Just try to enjoy your profession at every stages.

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Dorian_Mode
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Re: What is astrophysics research like in grad school?

Postby Dorian_Mode » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:57 am

Nah, it's a job. There are conference trips, but the travelling is mostly to places you wouldn't want to vacation (arid deserts). If you want glory travel, go for particle physics (though that might be a dying field in the next couple years).


Yeah, this summer I got to go work in a salt mine!

Wait, maybe I'm not doing this right...




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