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How do I get an Astronomy Education?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A quality astronomy education can prepare an individual for theoretical or applied research positions in the field. A doctoral degree, which typically involves about eight to ten years of college work, is needed to obtain most astronomy jobs. Most students obtain four-year bachelor's degrees in physics or astronomy, and then pursue specialized PhD programs in either theoretical or applied research. Practical training in the form of internships or assistant positions is also important in preparing for a future career. A prospective student should carefully research the credentials, reputation, and types of programs offered at different universities to ensure that he or she receives a worthwhile astronomy education.

An individual who wants to receive an astronomy education can look into physics programs at undergraduate universities and colleges. Some schools offer bachelor's degrees in astronomy, and students can major in general physics programs at colleges where specialized degrees are not available at the undergraduate level. Future astronomers usually take math, statistics, chemistry, and physics classes to gain a general understanding of the principles of astronomy. Students can gain hands-on experience in planetarium courses, where they have access to star maps, simulators, and telescopes.

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Many undergraduate students pursue research positions at their colleges or internships at private facilities. Practical experience is useful in preparing students for their eventual careers and improving their qualifications when applying to PhD programs. Near the end of a bachelor's degree program, a student can begin researching astronomy schools by exploring university websites and speaking with admissions counselors.

When choosing a PhD program in astronomy, a student should first determine what type of degree best suits his or her research interests. Many astronomy schools offer programs in theoretical research, applied techniques, or a combination of the two. Theoretical astronomers perform detailed observations and mathematical computations to understand the physical properties of space objects, identify new celestial bodies, and describe galaxies. Applied astronomers focus more on developing technologies used in satellite communication, space stations, rockets, and telescopes. Students can speak with advisers about the requirements and benefits of different programs to decide which type of degree to pursue.

In order to ensure a quality astronomy education, an individual should choose a school that is fully accredited by the appropriate third-party board in his or her country. In addition, a prospective student can review biographical information about teachers, success rates of graduates, and career placement services offered by different schools. Information about accreditation and graduation statistics can usually be found by browsing school websites or obtaining information from knowledgeable admissions counselors. Pursuing an astronomy education from a respected school can lead to many exciting job opportunities at private, government, and university research facilities.

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