Astrophysics is the application of physics to the study of astronomical objects and phenomena, with the goal of understanding and explaining how astronomical objects and phenomena occur and work. Becoming an astrophysicist requires training and skill in a combination of astronomy and physics.

Undergraduate programs in astrophysics aren't common, so students might opt to pursue a physics or astronomy degree with a strong secondary focus on the other topic. Most astrophysicists have a doctoral degree. Ph.D. programs in astrophysics require in-depth coursework in physics, astronomy, mathematics, computer science and statistics, as well as original research culminating in a dissertation. Doctoral programs generally take five years or more to complete.