Now you are going to make me explain my self
. I was afraid someone would bring up UT Austin, It is one of the top 15 programs in the nation, it even has its own observatory. But I did not have enough space for them in the dozen but it would be number 13 for sure. (This includes Hawaii). Colorado on the other hand, as a grad school, is a sinking ship as of right now, they focus on astronomy so much that graduates are not being exposed to other basic skills (ones that are postgraduate). You might argue that that is what grad school should be like but consider the competition, a well rounded Penn State grad Vs an Astor-freak from Colorado. Note that I am not saying they have a bad program, they do have a good program but it is not one of the best. I did not visit UCSC nor did I speak to any graduate from there so I thought it would be unfair to rank them. But according to other ranking web sights they are top 15.
Schools that did not make the list- (In no particular order)
Very close ties to the Ivory Dozen
• UT Austin
• Yale University. (Was only listed as a Shangri-La school)
• UCLA. (some graduates have trouble finding jobs)
• UCSC. (from what I read, so this is not my experience)
• Hawaii. (Very good program but no social life)
• Johns Hopkins University. (Unemployment for some reason)
• University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. (Unemployment)
• University College of London.
• North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Very good joint Physics-Astronomy programs-
• Dartmouth College.
• Penn. (not experimental though)
• University of Hawaii at Manoa. (don’t go there for Astro majors do physics)
• Carnegie Mellon University.
• Rice University.
• Boston College.
• Syracuse University.
• NYU. (Of-course ;( )
• Rutgers (Surprising really, I thought it was an underdog)
• I think I might be forgetting some others.
“J.V” Astronomy Schools-
• New Mexico State University-Main Campus.
• Michigan State University.
• University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. (Ironically, not too good, probably the weakest)
• Georgia State University. (I would avoid)
• Boston University. (Good name but weak program)
• University of Florida. (Very weak program)
• Lehigh University (weakest)
NOTE! THESE LISTS DO NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD/NOT ATTEND A SCHOOL BECAUSE OF THE RANKING. IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT THE SCHOOL DOES FOR YOU, IT IS ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AT THAT SCHOOL THAT MATTERS!!!!
If I was reviewing applications, I would hire some one that went above and beyond at a JV school than some one who barely got their Phd or MS from an Ivory. So please keep in mind, it is all about you not the schools. The school you go to is just a back drop to your story. Think about A. Einstein, no fancy education, he cut most of his classes and did not even get a job in Physics. He did not give up did he? Your passion for astronomy should come within, not motivated by what school you go to!