What is an astronomy and astrophysics degree?
Space sciences at Florida Tech have set the standard since 1958, successfully preparing students for high-tech careers at top space agencies and research firms. The astronomy and astrophysics degree option, which is focused on the study of celestial bodies beyond the Earth's solar system, is designed to meet the needs of students intending to pursue graduate education and a career in the astronomical sciences.
Whether you want to study the mysteries of black holes, examine the physical behavior of stars, or determine the origins of the universe, the Astronomy and Astrophysics degree from Florida Tech gives you a strong background in physics and hands-on experience with high-tech observational instrumentation.
Gain Practical Experience
Astronomy and astrophysics at Florida Tech isn't just something you study–it's something you go into the lab or onto the roof (where the telescopes are) and do! Florida Tech students gain scientific skills through hands-on experience in small classes with intensive faculty-student interaction.
The Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group at Florida Tech is concerned primarily with observational and theoretical studies of white dwarf stars, M dwarf stars, and cataclysmic variable systems. During your study at Florida Tech you have an opportunity to undertake exciting collaborative research with a peer or professor or work independently in a topic of your choosing, gaining practical experience for an enhanced job search portfolio and the perfect preparation for graduate and professional school and employment.
Earn an Advanced Degree
After receiving their astrobiology degree, many of our students go on to master's and doctoral programs at Florida Tech and other prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, and Yale.
“Why pursue an astronomy and astrophysics degree at Florida Tech? ”
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You have two graduate study opportunities:
You have three graduate study opportunities:
You have two graduate study opportunities:
When considering astronomy schools, consider that the Astronomy and Astrophysics program at Florida Tech was the world’s first ever. Students choose Florida Tech over other astronomy schools because we have one of the largest astronomy programs in the United States in terms of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually. Florida Tech is one of just two Florida universities listed by Peterson's Top Colleges for Science, with our department playing a prominent role in that distinction.
One benefit we have over other astronomy schools is that we are the lead institution for the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA), which operates automated one-meter-class telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz., and at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile. Both are accessed and controlled remotely over the Internet.
Small Class Sizes and an Internationally Recognized Faculty
Small class sizes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 give you an opportunity to receive one-on-one attention from professors. Professors strongly encourage students to participate in research projects to gain hands-on observations with our telescopes or work with data from space-based observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
Our internationally recognized faculty members work in various fields that include extrasolar planets, stellar astrophysics, and active galactic nuclei. Physics and space sciences faculty include a TED Global Fellow, the founding chair of the Southeast Association for Research in Astronomy, and an NSF Career Award-winner.
The monthly Astronomy and Astrophysics Public Lecture Series gives our professors an opportunity to impart their knowledge to students and the community on topics of general interest.
High-Tech Laboratories and Facilities
Facilities and resources are important to all astronomy schools and Florida Tech boasts some of the best. Our students have access to our Ortega 0.8-m telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast, allowing students to observe extrasolar planets and other cosmic phenomena. Faculty and students use this telescope as their main training and research instrument.
Classes are held in the F.W. Olin Physical Sciences Building, which provides 14 teaching and 21 research laboratories. A 3,500 sq. ft. “high-bay” physics research hall is used for magnetic levitation launch systems and high energy physics research, as well as for planetary science work.
Great Florida Location in the Heart of the World’s Gateway to Space Exploration
Florida Tech is the perfect place for an Astronomy and Astrophysics degree. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast (so named because of the presence of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral just north of us). In addition to the many academic benefits our students gain at Florida Tech, the university also has connections to world-leading aerospace companies such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and Harris Corporation. These relationships enable our students to form valuable connections that lead to future career opportunities.
The area has the fifth largest high-tech workforce in the country, with more than 5,000 high-tech corporations and government and military organizations located nearby. This workforce also provides a variety of internship and employment opportunities.
Florida Tech is just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River Lagoon, 72 miles of beautiful beaches, and a short trip to the Florida Keys or the Orlando theme parks. We also have a rich campus life that includes intramural and collegiate sports, clubs, and social activities.
Build Lasting Professional Relationships through Campus Organizations
Beyond the classroom, Astronomy and Astrophysics majors build leadership and professional experience through exciting internships (see below) and participation in academic organizations like Sigma Pi Sigma (the national physics honor society) and the Student Astronomical Society. The Society of Physics Students is a professional organization that focuses on education and enrichment and holds a variety of regular activities for students across campus.
The Florida Tech chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space is an active organization that meets to discuss space news and activism, as well as taking part in events with other space organization around the Southeast.
These and over 100 other student organizations are the perfect way to network for astrophysics and astronomy internships, research opportunities, and potential jobs.
“How will an astronomy and astrophysics degree prepare me for the future? ”
Peerless Internship Opportunities
Because of Florida Tech's location at the heart of the Space Coast, there are a plethora of opportunities for our students to obtain both astronomy and astrophysics internships during their studies. Some of the organizations that provide astronomy and astrophysics internships include:
- Leonardo DRS
- Northrop Grumman
Students participating in astrophysics and astronomy internships have monitored the Deep Impact Mission’s collision at Kitt Peak National Observatory, worked with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and helped develop and test new night-vision optics used by the US Army.
Stunning Undergraduate Research Opportunities
In addition to astrophysics or astronomy internships, astronomy and astrophysics students are encouraged to utilize Florida Tech’s F.W. Olin Observatory, which houses the Ortega telescope to take part in research projects. These projects may entail hands-on observations with our telescopes, or working with data from space-based observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, or the Kepler Observatory.
SARA also sponsors an NSF-funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program that provides 10–12 students from around the US the opportunity to work with scientists at SARA institutions.
Department faculty operates the world's largest X-ray array for measuring lightning. Faculty also co-operate (with UCLA) a chain of ten geomagnetic field observatories from Central Florida to Maine, and maintain a NASA-qualified clean room.
Valuable astrophysics and astronomy internships and research gives students real-world experience and learning opportunities.
“What can you do with an astronomy and astrophysics degree? ”
Florida Tech offers a Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics and Astronomy degree that prepares graduates for high-tech astronomy careers at top space agencies and research firms, involved with such technical work as space exploration and stellar evolution.
Astronomy and Astrophysics is the study of the universe, ranging from the vastness of space to the smallest of subatomic particles. Astronomy careers include developing new technologies, methods, and theories based on the results of research that deepen our understanding of how things work and contribute to innovative, real-world applications.
Employers seek out graduates with an astronomy and astrophysics degree from Florida Tech. Companies that recruit our students for internships and careers include:
- JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
- Harris Corporation
- DRS Optronics
- Kennedy Space Center
- The Space Telescopic Science Institute
- Northrop Grumman
- US Army
- Brookhaven National Laboratory
- Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
- Museum of Natural History in New York City
- Kitt Peak National Observatory
What astronomy careers are available? The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes a resource called the Occupational Outlook Handbook that provides detailed information about hundreds of jobs, including data about median pay, projected growth in employment, and specifics about what the jobs entail and prerequisites.
According to the Bureau, physics and astronomy careers are expected to increase by 14% through 2020. This growth is expected to come in the federal government in national laboratories as study continues to energy and science research, as well as in university-based research and teaching.
Undergraduates and graduate students with a BS in Astronomy and Astrophysics can look forward to a career in such fields as:
- Physics and biophysics
- Aerospace engineering
- Nuclear engineering
- Medical research
- Energy research
- Postsecondary education
- Materials science
- Geology and geoscience
- Biomedical research
- Environmental research
Graduate and Doctoral Programs
Astronomy careers are often available immediately upon graduation. However, more than half of astrophysics and astronomy degree students pursue graduate school after graduating from Florida Tech, as this is necessary for jobs in research. Beyond the master’s and doctoral programs at Florida Tech, our students are accepted to graduate degree programs at other prestigious schools, including:
- Auburn University
- Dartmouth University
- Johns Hopkins
- Georgia Tech
- Ohio State University
- SUNY Buffalo
- SUNY Stony Brook
- University of Arizona
- University of Florida
- University of Texas
- Vanderbilt University