Best Schools for Physics Majors: List of Top Schools

Jul 11, 2018

Physics tends to be identified as a graduate field, but there are also opportunities for undergraduate students looking to major in physics. Discover the best schools for pursuing a major in this field.

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  • 0:03 School Information
  • 0:37 MIT
  • 1:10 Caltech
  • 1:40 Harvard University
  • 2:23 Top Physics Schools

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School Information

Students searching for bachelor's degree programs in physics can find them at many schools across the country, including several top ranking institutions. There are three top institutions that offer Bachelor of Science degrees in the field of physics and rank nationally in U.S. News and World Report. One school has consistently been at the top of the rankings for physics, overall, while two more institutions boast a top graduate physics program. Award-winning faculty and a research-intensive curriculum are some other highlights of these programs.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

School Highlight: In 2014, U.S. News and World Report listed Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) physics graduate program as number one in the nation.

The school's Bachelor of Science and Physics program prepares students for graduate study or careers in fields like astrophysics, management, law, and medicine. Since 1998, the MIT program has seen four alumni win the Nobel Prize, and seven faculty members possess an Oersted Medal, which is the most prominent award of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

California Institute of Technology

School Highlight: The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) tied for the #2 spot for graduate physics program in the nation, according to a 2014 publication from U.S. News and World Report.

Those who pursue an undergraduate physics degree can take courses in waves, quantum physics, and statistical mechanics, in addition to introductory physics. This undergraduate program is heavily research-based and, as a result, computational physics and programming courses are required.

Harvard University

School Highlight: Harvard's physics undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in multiple semesters of individual research while being supervised by experienced faculty members.

Undergrads can also work as teaching assistants, but only between five and ten students are chosen for the role. In addition to core courses, the curriculum allows students to pick a concentration in related sciences such as chemistry or physics. This program graduates about 50 to 60 majors a year, many of which go on to graduate school in the field. For those interested in further study, it's helpful to note that Harvard was tied with CalTech for the #2 ranking in graduate physics programs by the U.S. News and World Report in 2014.

Top Physics Schools

These four additional top schools offer bachelor's degree programs in physics and are also marked by unique characteristics:

School Name Location Distinction
Stanford University Stanford, CA Requires students pursuing a bachelor's degree with honors to complete a senior thesis
University of Arizona Tuscon, AZ Encourages undergrads to participate in faculty research
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI Hosts student organizations such as the C. Wilbur Peters Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), Sigma Pi Sigma (SPS), and the Society for Women in Physics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC Allows students enrolled in the B.A. or B.S. program to participate in research projects

There are several top-ranking national universities that offer bachelor's degree programs in physics, including MIT, CalTech, and Harvard. Students interested in attending a top institution can narrow the selection process by examining each program's distinct programs and learning opportunities.

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