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Ranking US Universities according to their physics research

  1. Aug 26, 2012 #1

    I have asked similar questions in the past but am having alot of trouble with this!:

    I am welcoming all advice on finding good official ranking tables of US Universities according to the quality and volume (and perhaps other metrics as well!) of their scientific research. For example a good resource for ranking UK Universities according to these criteria can be found at rae.ac.uk.

    I suppose the main reason I am having trouble with this is that I know very little about the USA! So it is difficult to know which are good or bad institutions of higher education - and the fact that there are literally thousands of institutions makes the task all the more arduous!

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    There is no such thing publically available, as far as I know, as least not from any U.S. government agency or the American Physical Society or the American Institute of Physics. If there were, I'm sure there would be frequent references to it here on PF!
  4. Aug 26, 2012 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    There's no such thing, I'm afraid. Ranking schools is impossible - how do you deal with two schools: one is the best in subtopic X and has no program in subtopic Y and another school which is the reverse? Now it's impossible in Britain as well, but that doesn't seem to stop them from trying. Vice chancellors know this, but they also know they are stuck with this.
  5. Aug 27, 2012 #4
    One very strong point about the US university system is that I can't think of any university with an regionally accredited physics Ph.D. program that is a *bad* institution. As long as it's listed in the AIP directory of physics departments, you know that it isn't an outright scam, and the standards for US graduate physics institutions are high enough so that you are assured of a decent education, where ever you end up.
  6. Aug 27, 2012 #5
    First of all, figure out what subfield you are interested in. Just like Vanadium said, every university is different as they all have different emphases in different subfields.

    Once you know this, I suggest you check out physicsgre.com, and check out the threads where people list what schools they applied to and which ones they got in (http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4274) There are multiple years, the thread I linked is 2012.

    Pay specific attention to what topics people are applying for, and what schools they applied to. You will get an idea for what the common schools people applied to in your subfield are, and which ones accept nobody and which ones accept more people.

    Another thing I suggest is: http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/

    You can search for specific subfields and it will bring up a list of schools which do work in those fields.

    After that, you need to go to those school's websites and do some heavy research regarding the schools.

    Picking schools by ranking is the stupidest/laziest way to pick schools, and will only result in failure.
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