Top physics programs

<p>Which universities have the best undergraduate programs in physics? I know MIT, Princeton and Caltech are good ones. What are some others?</p>

<p>Harvard, Chicago, Cornell, Stanford.</p>

<p>Among the LACs, Williams is well-known for astro-physics, and Swarthmore and Harvey Mudd are both said to be very strong.</p>

<p>How do Yale, Brown, Dartmouth & Rice compare with the above?</p>

<p>I can't give a list of top programs or compare the schools already listed, but what I'd like to say is that there are some characteristics of the school and the student that make for a good outcome. Just because MIT is a great school for someone else does not mean it will be for you, for example. You need to match school characteristics such as class size, availability of faculty and their willingness to work with undergrads, the type of kids that attend the school, and so on with what you need/desire in college. </p>

<p>An interesting article posted on the forum a few weeks back about genius and its role (or lack there-of) in success is at <a href=""&gt;;/a> I'm not trying to reopen that debate, read the article for yourself and see what you think. But the 2 main take-away points were that top-level success depended on 2 things: sustained hard work and a good mentor to lead the way. You should be immediately able to see how choosing the college that's a good fit for you makes all the difference in these 2 factors, something rankings will never be able to tell you.</p>

<p>copied from an earlier post I wrote ..
my DD originally wanted to major in bio or perhaps physics. Her cousin is a tenured (young) college professor in physics, who did UCSD, then Harvard. Rutgers for postdoc, then went to study at the Institute (PU) after completing the postdoc. This is his list of some favorite undergrad science schools. He is very up on public undergrad work. </p>

<p>Rutgers is excellent in science. Other excellent choices are
University of California, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, and SUNY Stony Brook.
UC schools that are strongest in physics are Berkeley, UC Santa
and UCSD. UCLA is also good.</p>

<p>run a nuclear reactor!</p>

<p>but it isnt a university</p>

<p>21 colleges and universities are written up in SPIN-UP (Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics), an initiative of the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics.
Look here: <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Among these institutions are well known LACs like Bryn Mawr, Carleton, Lawrence, Reed and Whitman as well as well known universities like Harvard. But also profiled are less prominent instituitons like SUNY Geneseo, North Park University and Grove City College.</p>

<p>Another link to add to DadX3's link:</p>

<p>The AIM also has a complete listing that describes degree-granting undergraduate physics programs in the U.S. While on this page, be sure to read the report on whether the size of the undergrad program matters, plus lots of other information, including a great article entitled "Does it matter where I go to college"
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>MikeMack, however, says it best: Find colleges where you feel you will thrive first, then worry about their physics departments. While you may plan to major in physics now, plans and interests do tend to change for a lot of students. There's nothing worse than being miserable at a school that has a great department in your major but is completely wrong for you in every other way. So, make sure to find both a good physics department AND a good fit in other ways. Good luck!</p>

<p>I understand this is regarding undergrad institutions but I take it would not be much different in post grad. Here is my preference list applying post grad in string theory (a field in physics)</p>

<li>UCSB (believe it or not this is like an ivy league school for physics)</li>
<li>UC Berkeley</li>
<li>U Chicago</li>
<li>U Michigan</li>
<li>U Maryland</li>
<li>U Columbia</li>
<li>UC Santa Cruz</li>

<p>Hope this helps. This is where I would rank the uni's as a postgrad student. If you want to put international places I would put Cambridge and Oxford somewhere in the top five. If you want my reasoning behind why any uni is where its at let me know. Of course it depends what sort of physics your child is interested in. Tell me does he want to do practical or theoretical? Does s/he want to specialize in:
String theory
Quantum information/Quantum Computing
Quantum Field theory
Nuclear physics
Atomic Physics
Solid State physics
Condensed matter physics

<p>Oldinjersey: you knew someone at the institute of advnced studies at princeton?! May I ask who?</p>

<p>One measure of a good undergrad physics program is the percentage of graduates who go on to earn a PhD. The top ten are:</p>

Harvey Mudd
NM Institute of Mining
U Chicago

<p>Many are also good all-around schools; one could be your match.</p>

<p>Source: Weighted Baccalaureate Origins Study, Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.</p>

<p>A few Nobel prizes in Physics from Caltech... hehehe. Pretty impressive considering the schools we are competing with are multiple times our size.</p>

<p>For some reason I can't fit them all in here.</p>

<p>1923-Robert A. Millikan
1936-Physics, Carl D. Anderson
1961-Physics, Rudolf M</p>

<p>1965-Physics, Richard P. Feynman
1969-Physics, Murray Gell-Mann
1983-Physics, William A. Fowler
2004-Physics, H. David Politzer</p>

<p>Sorry about the multiple posts, the forum kept cutting the posts off...</p>

<p>Great graduate programs in string theory may have little correlation with where great undergraduate programs in physics can be found. For one thing, it eliminates all LACs, which do not have graduate programs. And as vossron pointed out, on a per capita basis many LACs are top undergraduate producers of people who go on to get physics PhDs.</p>

<p>I also think- that an undergrad program is better left general- major in physics for example, rather than astrophysics, or computational physics.
The route you take after graduation may take you down either path or both, but if you have too narrow of a focus you wont be as well prepared.</p>

<p>While my daughter is very interested in marine biology, we are looking at schools where she could maybe take a course or two, but where she would be getting a bio degree or even biochem, rather than marine science.
Undergrad is only the first four years of study, and going by what I know of working scientists, much too early to limit study. ( which is probably why, LACs are dominant compared to relative size of graduating class, in numbers of scientists who have phds.)</p>


<p>Cool! A string theorist on these boards!</p>

<p>Not to hijack the thread, but I have a question for you. My understanding is that many people see string theory or M theory or whatever it's called these days as not being really physics, or even science, since it doesn't appear to be testable at this point. Any thoughts?</p>

<p>I had a conversation over the holidays about string theory with a Berkeley physics undergrad. He also indicated that it's losing favor.</p>

<p>grayza - sent info in PM</p>