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How to know if a school has a good Physics program?

  1. Apr 8, 2010 #1
    Hello, everyone.

    I am an Oregon resident who has decided to switch from Electrical Engineering to Physics. I feel like my true passion lies in Physics :) My hope is to earn a PhD. So my primary concern is getting into a school that can get me a strong PhD.

    Anyway, I live in Portland, Oregon, and I am unfortunately grounded here for the next few years for personal reasons. I have 2 schools in my area for the next few years that I am grounded here. One of them is the University of Portland. It is a private University with an apparently very high ranking.

    Link to ranking is here: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/portland-or/university-of-portland-3224

    School website for physics program: http://college.up.edu/physics/

    "Rank 10
    Score: 66
    Tier 1
    College Category:
    Universities-Master's (West)"

    The other school is Portland State University, a university that as far as I know is not very good.

    Link to ranking is here: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/portland-or/portland-state-3216

    School Physics homepage: http://physics.pdx.edu/index.htm [Broken]

    "Tier 4
    College Category:
    National Universities"

    So it doesn't seem too great.

    But I figured that a school can be great in some areas, but not in others, and my concern is Physics.

    Although it seems pretty clear that Portland State University doesn't have the best program, it does have the Center for Microscopy & Nanotechnology (CEMN), and Nanotechnology is my main goal in Physics. Link to that is here: http://www.emc.pdx.edu/ [Broken]

    So I have a few questions. First, how can I find out which schools have reputable, quality programs that will help me earn a reputable, quality PhD? Second, is it worth the money to go to The University of Portland over Portland State University?

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2010 #2


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    Check out their physics department webpages. How many physics professors do they have? How many grad students? What kinds of jobs are these students getting, or where are they getting into grad school? How often do the professors publish, and in what journals? Some are much higher impact than others, and show larger contributions to their fields. What fields do they offer, and what are you interested in studying? If you want to continue to a PhD after the masters, at that school or another, you'll want a chance to do a masters research project with one of them, so keep that in mind when picking a school.
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