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

Top 10 Astrophysics Programs

  1. Jul 25, 2006 #1
    I was wondering if someone could give me a top ten of astrophysics programs (or less, if you are not familiar with 10). Here's my current list, in no particular order, based on my limited research:

    1. UCB
    2. UCSB
    3. Cal Tech
    4. University of Chicago
    5. University of Arizona
    6. UCSC
    7. MIT
    8. University of Illinois at Urbana
    9. Cornell
    10. Princeton

    Does anyone have an opinion on those schools? Any schools that should be on the list but aren't? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2006 #2
    is that in the world? would have expected harvard to be up there.
  4. Jul 25, 2006 #3
    I am only familiar with institutions in America (haven't looked outside the country), but I'm definitely open to international programs... :)
  5. Jul 25, 2006 #4
    According to this http://www.grad.berkeley.edu/publications/pdf/nrc_rankings_1995.pdf" [Broken] report done in 1995 the order is thus:

    1. Caltech
    2. Princeton
    3. Berkeley
    4. Harvard
    5. Chicago
    6. UC Santa Cruz
    7. Arizona
    8. MIT
    9. Cornell
    10. Texas (Austin)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  6. Jul 25, 2006 #5
    That data is over 11 years old though...for instance, UCSB's stock has risen considerably in the past decade. Does anyone know if a more recent survey is available?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Jul 25, 2006 #6

    UCSB is ranked number ten in the US for physics overall, but I'm not sure about astrophysics. All the others seem about right (not sure if in that order necessarily). Though I don't know anything about U of Az.
  8. Jul 25, 2006 #7
    in Canada: University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of British Columbia. Australia i believe has 1 or 2 pretty good schools
  9. Jul 26, 2006 #8
    OK, second question: Anyone attending the top 10? Or recently received their doctorate from one of them? What do/did you think of your school?
  10. Jul 27, 2006 #9
    In the UK. Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Manchester are the leaders IMO.

    Surely Cambridge must be in the top ten internationally for Particle Physics, with Manchester and Durham close behing, their past laureates look like a who's who in the foundations of understanding particles.
  11. Jul 27, 2006 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Here's a resource http://www.phds.org/rankings/astronomy/
    for Astrophysics and Astronomy. However, the NRC data is old (from 1994)... but it is suggested that there will be an update after Dec 2007.

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/history/graham/change.htm [Broken]
    based on the 1995 data. (Search the document for "astrophysics".)

    Here's another (not using NRC data)
    http://survey.nagps.org/getWeights.php?deptSet=1&deptType=139 [Broken]

    These may help you decide:
    http://cdm.berkeley.edu/doku.php?id=astrophysicsjobs [Broken]
    http://www.hp-h.com/b/astromill/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  12. Jul 27, 2006 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I'm not sure if you misinterpret the OP, but the field of study that's relevant here is Astrophysics, not Particle Physics. While there are connections between the two, they are not considered to be the same field of study and differ in many aspects.

  13. Jul 27, 2006 #12
    Indeed they do. I think here it's more an attitude towards research, both are high expenditure areas, taking Manchester as an example, they have the Jodrell Bank telescope (I think it's still the largest in the UK) whilst spending significant amounts of money on Particle Physics research. Similar with Cambridge I hear.

    Basically research focused universities are leading in Astophysics and Particle physics, in the UK we have a seperate funding body for Astrophysics and Particle Physics (the PPARC) where other areas of physics are covered by the EPSRC hence I feel that certain institutions allign there research projects into certain sections.

    Just my opnion though,

  14. Jul 27, 2006 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    But if you consider them to be one of the same, then why do we even bother calling them with different names?

    Approximately 10 to 20% of the "physics" work done at the Tevatron has "Astrophysics" banner. The rest aren't. The LHC is being sold as a particle physics facility, not astrophysics even though it does have a number of astrophysics experiments in store. However, it certainly isn't focusing on astrophysics for its existence.

    I would also point out that some schools in the US that were listed as being strong in astrophysics need not have the same standing in particle physics, and vice versa. So some schools being strong in one does not automatically imply the other.

  15. Jul 27, 2006 #14
    I certainly dont consider them to be the same, but in the UK I wouldn't hesitate to say the strongest universities in astrophysics tend (very strongly) to be whose with excellent research programmes in Particle Physics, and again Manchester is a classic example of this.

    I think the UK and US are very different, mainly due to funding issues. I do feel there is a stong connection between Astrophysics and Particle Physics, and that excellent in one can contribute strongley to the other.

    I think in the UK there is a similar relationship between theoretical physics groups and a mathematics groups looking at QM / QFT. Clearly if your at an institution with excellent in mathematics specalised in QM / QFT it will help your theoretical physics sections?

    At the end of the day, certain sections are very complimentary, and I think Astophysics and Particle Physics fit into that group, and hence patterns of excellence behave in a similar manor.

  16. Jul 27, 2006 #15
    These two seem rankings are COMPLETELY different. The first one rates UC schools highly, while the second only gives them a grade of C! Why would there be such a difference in opinion? Would you consider the NRC data to be more reliable, even though it is older?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  17. Jul 27, 2006 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That second link certainly has some bizarre results (to go with their bizarre methodology) - I wouldn't go very much by that.
  18. Jul 27, 2006 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The latter appears to be a survey of graduate students... probably by those who have attended [but they claim that this is not verified].

    http://survey.nagps.org/about/sample.php [Broken]
    http://survey.nagps.org/about/methods.php [Broken]

    It could certainly be that the weights of issues assigned by the NRC are different from those of the graduate students.

    ...in the end, make your own judgments.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook