Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Measuring Science and Engineering Programs at Universities

  1. Apr 13, 2008 #1


    User Avatar

    How can I tell whether or not a school's degree program is worth it or not? I know to stay away from the online degree mills and make sure that all schools are accredited by recogonized associations; however, I do not know how to judge a school's education benefit. Is there any way to find this information out without physically attending the school for a semester? I just want to make sure that whatever school I choose to attend doesn't have a lackluster degree program that will get me laughed at when I apply to graduate school after earning my bachelors degree. I want to get the most out of my university studies.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2008 #2
    The quality of a school is as good as its lecturers and its researchers.
    So check the school's website and find out who their prima-donna's are.
    Then you check how good these people are with an internet search.
    Or ask them (by email) a list of their well-known alumni. Check the names on
    the list with Google. If the school is not willing to give you the list, its a bad school anyway

  4. Apr 13, 2008 #3
    That a school has prima donna researchers does not imply that undergraduate education is also high quality.

    I would try to find out the following from some undergrads at places you're considering applying to:

    What do the undergraduate students do when they finish their degree? (get a job? what grad schools do they go to?)
    Do the undergrads seem happy? Do they study together? Who are their favourite and least favourite professors?
    Where do the undergrads live?
    Do the undergrads do research in the summer?
  5. Apr 14, 2008 #4

    Dr. Courtney

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2018 Award

    You are right to be concerned. There are a lot of mediocre programs out there. Most schools with good Physics programs have a number of good engineering programs as well, and unless you've got good information to the contrary, I tend to take the absence of good ME and EE programs as an indication that a school probably lacks the math to support a good Physics major.

    The US News and World report rankings are not the best indicators, but they are probably the most widely known and easily available. If a school is not in the top 100, then they are probably not worthy of serious consideration.

    I'd also look at the size of the department supporting your desired major. When there are less than 5 full-time faculty in a department, it is hard for them to have either a critical mass or a suitably varied range of interests to support a good program in the discipline.

    Also, you can probably post here with a major and a list of 5-10 schools and get some feedback, or ask for some suggestions regarding the best schools in your geographic area in a given field.

    Michael Courtney
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook