Top Schools for Physical Science

Read about degree programs in physical science, which typically include the study of non-living subjects, such as geology, physics, astronomy and chemistry. Learn about the academic options at four top-notch universities, and find a list of other schools in the U.S. that offer degrees in physical science.

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It is possible to earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in physical science. Some programs enable students to concentrate their studies in a particular aspect of this broad field.

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School Information

Degree programs in physical science can vary in their design and focus, with some geared toward students who plan to teach science and others oriented toward those seeking careers in research. An undergraduate program in physical science may also help students prepare for graduate studies in engineering. The four universities highlighted below offer outstanding undergraduate and/or graduate degrees programs in the physical sciences. For 2017, each of these schools was nationally or regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

University of Chicago in Chicago, IL

School Highlight: The University of Chicago ranked as one of the 10 best colleges in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2017; its graduate programs in earth science, physics, math and chemistry also placed among the top 20 for 2017.

The university made the Forbes list of 'America's Top Colleges' for 2017. Undergraduate programs include majors in physics, chemistry, geophysical sciences, mathematics and statistics. Students can also pursue a 1-year Master of Science in the Physical Sciences program, which may include undergraduate science courses that were not part of the major.

University of Southern California in Los Angeles

School Highlight: The University of Southern California was ranked among the top 100 national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Southern California #23 among national universities for 2017. The school's physical science program is designed for students who intend to teach physical science on the secondary school level. The program awards a Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences and includes courses in geology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Graduate programs are offered in physics, chemistry, mathematics and earth sciences.

University of Maryland in College Park

School Highlight: A public university located just outside of Washington, D.C., the University of Maryland was rated the 20th best public university, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

The physical science program is overseen by the College of Computer, Mathematical, & Physical Sciences. An honors program is offered at the undergraduate level for students who wish to follow a more advanced track. The University of Maryland's Institute for Physical Science and Technology offers graduate programs in the physical sciences leading to a master's or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). These degrees are in applied statistics, applied mathematics and scientific computation, biophysics or chemical physics.

Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN

School Highlight: The B.S. in Physical Science is offered as a 3-year pre-engineering program.

Physical science majors at Freed-Hardeman University can choose between the standard two-year track and dual-degree 3-2 engineering program that includes three years of undergraduate study and two years of graduate work at the school of engineering. The Bachelor of Science program includes courses in chemistry, physics, computer science and math. For 2017, the school was ranked #43 among regional universities in the South, per U.S. News & World Report.

Top Schools with Good Physical Science Programs

Strong physical science programs can also be found at these universities:

  • At Marshall University in Huntington, WV, the master's program in physical science offers 5 areas of focus, including geobiophysical modeling, physics and mathematics.
  • Michigan State University in East Lansing offers B.S. degrees at Lyman Briggs College.
  • The San Diego State University Physics Department organizes the annual Doc Morris Public Lecture Series. The school is located in San Diego, CA.
  • Located in Queens, NY, St. John's University's library system equipped with more 1.7 million-volumes.
  • The University of Nebraska - Kearney was ranked #56 among regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.
  • Washington State University - Tri-Cities in Richland, WA has over 1,800 students.

At many well-regarded universities, students can find educational offerings in the physical sciences at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels.

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