Some good undergraduate Physics programs?

  1. Dec 16, 2007 #1
    Hello. I'm a senior, just now in the midst of applying to schools for my undergrad. This is, thus far, my list (sans Caltech and MIT, both of which rejected me for early apps) as separated into three tiers based on how I'd judge my chances:

    Carnegie Mellon

    Stevens Tech

    U of Arizona

    I'm in the top 5% of my class (bad grades freshman year, all As ever since), I have a 2140 SAT (760 CR, 720 M, 670 W), I'm working on a governor's commission, and I've got numerous extracurriculars outside of those. Good amount of community service, too.

    My question, really, is quite simple... are there any other schools with particularly good undergraduate Physics programs that I should look into? I got rejected from both Caltech and MIT this weekend, and I'm trying to cover all my bases to ensure that despite that setback I still will get a great undergraduate education that'll set me on the right path to becoming a good Physicist and a good teacher. The education is subservient to the amount of work put in, I've gathered, but any particularly useful bellwether schools would be good to note if there are any.

    Thank you for any assistance you may be able to offer. :)


    PS: This forum is immensely helpful!
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2007 #2


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    How do you know that this forum is helpful when you only have one post and no replies so far? :)
  4. Dec 16, 2007 #3
    I've been reading posts and problems here since early this summer when I started doing independent study vector Calc. It's been invaluable in helping comprehend the material, and it's also been quite helpful for occasional blocks in my AP Physics class this year. :)

    So, it was more a blanket statement for my limited use of the forum than a descriptor of this specific topic. :P
  5. Dec 16, 2007 #4
    Reed College has a good physics program you should check out. Since it sounds like you're interested in grad school, you might check out their "Life After Reed" page ( Click on "Ph.D. Productivity" and "Most Frequently Attended Graduate Schools" in particular.
  6. Dec 16, 2007 #5


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    I'm guessing you have taken a calculus course for credit.
    Have you taken a good physics class in high school? (not a requirement)

    Are tuition, geography, and student-population (in the school and in the major) factors in your decision to attend if accepted?
    What is your long-term goal (beyond the B.S. degree)? Teaching in HS or in college? Interested in research?
    What would you backup plan be if you didn't want to be a physics major?

    Some others that come to mind (i might add more later).
    U Chicago
    Oregon State, Colgate

    of possible interest:
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  7. Dec 16, 2007 #6


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    rob, I just thought I'd let you know; your secret message can now be seen! :tongue2:
  8. Dec 16, 2007 #7


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    doh! :rolleyes:
    I recall reading that some colors were changed slightly.
  9. Dec 16, 2007 #8
    I took my school's Calculus BC class in my Junior year, and got a 5 on the test. From there I started vector calc classes at the local CC, and if all goes well I'll be in Diff eqs next semester. I say independent study because the teacher really doesn't seem to know what he's doing, and I've learned far more from just working it out myself than I have in his class. I'm in the middle of an AP Physics class; we do all the stuff from the Physics B. test, but we don't do E&M so I'm trying to get on top of that outside class a little bit. It's really interesting stuff, IMO...

    1) Right now, not really. I'm going to end up making a choice based on those factors and who accepts me, but when it comes to just applying to schools I just want to keep a lot of options open.
    2) My long term goal is to teach and research at a college level.
    3) Very much so.
    4) It would probably be a general math degree or (possibly) a statistics degree. I'd still be doing math, in any case.

    Thanks for the school suggestions!
  10. Dec 16, 2007 #9


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    Have you considered Canada? McGill was recently named the best public school in North America, 12th best school in the world and has a very fine physics program.
  11. Dec 16, 2007 #10
    I haven't really considered Canada up until now, but I did a bit of research and McGill does seem like a pretty good school. I think I may apply. Thanks for the suggestion! :)
  12. Dec 17, 2007 #11
    Being rejected by Caltech and MIT is a blessing in disguise. I'm an undergrad at an instutition of the same caliber, and I can assuredly tell you that you're not going to get the best education at schools like this. While these schools may have great RESEARCH reputations, generally the teaching is terrible and classes are frustrating. For graduate school, yes, these schools are the places to be, but for undergrad, find schools where the competition is still competitive and teaching is held to a high standard.

    I've heard great things of places like Reed or Harvey Mudd. If I had it all to do over again, I'd go to a smaller teaching based institution rather than the large elite I chose.
  13. Dec 17, 2007 #12


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    Not to mention that it was also named the #1 party school by Playboy...
  14. Dec 17, 2007 #13
    CMU has a pretty good physics program. The freshman introductory physics honors class (which follows the book Matter and Interaction by Chabay and Sherwood) is very enjoyable. It exposes the students to the fundamentals right from the beginning. Definitely look into it.

  15. Dec 17, 2007 #14
  16. Dec 17, 2007 #15


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    Chabay and Sherwood are now at North Carolina State University.
    I'm glad their text (which is unlike the traditional physics textbook) is being used in more places [beyond CMU and NCSU].
  17. Dec 17, 2007 #16
    Is the University of Houston's program good?
  18. Feb 26, 2011 #17
    I thing university of Maryland has a good undergraduate program for physics
  19. Feb 27, 2011 #18

    Vanadium 50

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    This message is 3 years old. The OP is in the middle of his college years now.
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