What are the best "2nd tier" physics PhD programs known for cosmology? Thanks
What do you mean by "second tier" and "best"? (most PhD's conferred, most reputable faculty members, proportion of PhD graduates with a postdoc/permanent position...) Are you looking at anywhere specifically in the world?
I have no idea what tier this is, but Johns Hopkins has some bleeding edge research going on in cosmology.
JHU's Dr. Adam Riess is the one who lead the team that discovered dark energy, for example. It's worth looking in to.
You then have the question of what areas of Cosmology? Are you interested in experimental (e.g. Planck), theoretical or data analysis (e.g. parameter estimation)? Are you interested in simulating large scale structure? General relativity? Braneworld cosmologies? CMB? Astroparticles?
It may be helpful to list a handful of some of the areas of interest as this can help narrow down the list of institutions pretty quick. For example a university may have a very good cosmology program but if they're purely experimental then it wouldn't be suitable for someone interested in something like string cosmology etc.
I don't know what counts as 2nd tier. So I guess answers like U Chicago isn't gonna help?
And you're looking for physics programs? Does that mean you want to do pure theoretical work?
Schools who would accept someone in the bottom 50% of physics GRE scores but have extensive undergrad research experience.
Preferably the U.S.
I would like an even blend of theory and experiment/observation
No, I want a balance between theory and observation/experiment.
Charles Bennett, the PI of WMAP, is at JHU. Riess was at Berkeley when he discovered dark energy: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1998AJ....116.1009R
Indeed, thanks for the suggestion
Ah, good point. The fact remains that Dr. Riess is currently doing research with JHU, so there's still that.
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