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

Schools near Boston for Physics

  1. Feb 12, 2012 #1
    I have been around here long enough to know that there are many places you can get your undergraduate degree, but I would like some suggestions as to where I should be looking. I am looking for a program with strong, modern research and the possibility of taking graduate courses.
    Back story, there is a tl;dr

    I have had some personal business come up recently (today) which may necessitate me moving (and hence transferring) to somewhere within an hour or two of Boston, but I am not really sure where I should be applying. I did a cursory search or two using the collegeboard.com system for schools with degrees in mathematics-general OR physics OR mathematical physics OR mathematics and statistics, to try to be a little bit on the safe-side which were within 100 miles of Boston.

    The big names were there, of course, like Harvard and MIT and Brown...but I am really unfamiliar with most of the other schools in the area. I know that BU and Boston College (BC) exist, but I am not sure what else I should be looking at. I think Brown would be a stretch for me (I've already been rejected from MIT once...ouch...and that was not fun), BU looks like it would be okay...BC I don't really know...anyways, some other schools that came up were: Amherst, Tufts, Brandeis, Worcester, Wellesley.


    So my real question is this:
    Where should I be looking at first for a physics department within an hour or two's worth of driving from Boston?

    I know this isn't the *best* way to be doing these kind of things, but my present method is to check the type of research being done and if my area of research is present, check the h-index's and recent publishing history of the faculty. I know h-index isn't exactly the best way to be checking their output, but a lot of these places want an application by March 1 and I need to figure out what I'm doing soon. If I can narrow it down, I'll be able to really investigate the quality of what their doing, but presently this the fastest way to do things :|

    Thank you for any help in sorting through schools,

    If it helps I'm interested in HEP primarily, Cosmology and CM are tied for my secondary interests. I have a 3.8 ( :cry: ) and I'm taking QFT II and GR this semester, but I'm not ready to graduate by this May for several reasons.

    Expand out to about 3.5 hours of driving =|
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2012 #2


    User Avatar

    Brandeis has a very well-established High Energy program; the department is also small enough that you can get involved as an undergrad. Wellesley is a women's college, so that's probably out unless you're female.
  4. Feb 13, 2012 #3
    ^^; not female, so that is out...

    For Brandeis:
    Do you have any experience with their theory or experimental group?

    I just looked into their research section and the three people listed in HEP-theory are all string theorists, primarily. While I have no substantial objection to strings, I am a little biased against them (I'm primarily interested in QCD, lattices in particular). I suppose I will try and look a little deeper before I make any judgement, though. This is what I garnered about their theory group:
    Headrick is nine years out from his PhD, but INSPIRE has very little work listed for him and the only relatively recent work is on holographic theory, which I'm not really sure would be great for me.
    Lawrence looks stronger, but he doesn't seem to have published much recently either.
    Schnitzer looks like he would be great to learn from since he has a ton of experience; he's also kept up with publishing despite being around since the 60s :P
    All in all they have some interesting topics that they have studied, but I don't know that I would fit in there.

    The experimental group seemed substantial enough to me, most of them appear to be contributing to various LHC projects.

    Thanks for pointing out Brandeis! Let me know if I am getting the wrong impression about the school; I am still considering applying, though I am leaning away from doing so at the moment.
  5. Feb 13, 2012 #4


    User Avatar

    I'm not clear as to what you're looking for. It sounds like you're almost done with an undergraduate education - are you trying to transfer? Or looking for a graduate program? Keep in mind that most schools make you attend for at least 2 years before they'll grant you a degree.

    Is there some reason you're ignoring UMass Amherst? It's got a strong physics program, undergrad and graduate.
  6. Feb 13, 2012 #5
    There is no reason I'm ignoring them. ^^; didnt know it was there, that's why I'm asking around.

    Undergraduate degree, I'm really far ahead in some aspects, but I'm not really ready to graduate yet. I can take 2 years for sure. I'm okay with losing a large portion of credit and 2 years would put me out on time for 4 years total.

    Sorry if anything formats oddly, on my phone.

    I will look into Amass Amherst soon, thanks for the information!
  7. Feb 13, 2012 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    First, you will be taking essentially the same courses no matter where you go. The US undergraduate curriculum is what it is, and it is largely common across schools. So is the 1st year graduate curriculum, so taking a few grad classes is also unlikely to be any different. The only difference is research.

    Second, the quality of an undergrad research program is largely hit and miss. This is, rightly or wrongly, looked upon as "value added". It varies from university to university, professor to professor, and often year to year.

    Finally, since you list Condensed Matter as one of your interests, you will find that virtually every school does that.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook