The vast amount of space around us that has yet to be explored and understood presents astronomers and astrophysics with endless topics to research. If you're interested in pursuing a career involving astronomy and astrophysics, consider attending a university that offers hands-on research opportunities and high-quality equipment designed to prepare you for advanced studies in the field after graduation. Top programs in astronomy and astrophysics have been identified based on factors including faculty-student ratios, faculty research activity and global academic reputation.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Students interested in astronomy and astrophysics can take a variety of courses in the fields through the Department of Physics and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in either of these departments can study astronomy through MIT's flexible curriculum. Astronomy and astrophysics students at MIT have access to several observatories and labs. Research is conducted at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, the Planetary Astronomy Laboratory and the MIT-NASA IRTF Remote Observing Laboratory.

Harvard University

Undergraduate and Ph.D. students in Astrophysics at Harvard University have opportunities to study at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which is world-renowned for leading astrophysics research. Astrophysics students at Harvard also benefit from small class sizes and opportunities to travel to remote astronomical observatories. The faculty of Harvard's Department of Astronomy include dedicated professors and researchers with interests ranging from gamma-ray bursts to comets and exoplanets.

Princeton University

The Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University features two divisions: astronomy and plasma physics. Students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees through programs that focus on research and academic excellence. Students have numerous opportunities to develop supportive relationships with faculty and peers because the department is relatively small -- usually comprised of less than 20 students. The Astrophysical Sciences department at Princeton is also a member of the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy and the Astrophysical Research Consortium.

University of California Berkeley

Students interested in astronomy and astrophysics can receive instruction in a wide variety of related fields through the University of California Berkeley's Astronomy Department. Graduate and undergrad programs are available in areas including infrared, optical and radio astronomy, high-energy astrophysics and cosmology, and theoretical and observational astrophysics. Astronomy and astrophysics students at UC Berkeley can access a number of advanced instruments found in the Space Science and Lawrence Berkeley Labs on campus and at observatories including ones in Hawaii and Southern California.