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Schools UBC, Berkeley, or UCLA, for undergrad?

  1. Apr 5, 2016 #1

    I'm a California resident who is also a Canadian citizen. I'm currently deciding between Berkeley, UCLA, and UBC (University of British Columbia). I would be majoring in physics at Berkeley and UCLA, while at UBC I would major in Engineering and hope to get into Engineering Physics. I'm also hoping to go to grad school.

    Engineering Physics at UBC would take 5 years and be around C$22K/year (about US $17K currently, a total of US $85K). UCLA and Berkeley would be around $33-34K/year (a total of $132K).

    Will I receive a better education at Berkeley or UCLA than at UBC? And will this difference be worth the additional cost, considering that I will probably be going to grad school?

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2016 #2
    Education is what you make of it. It is perfectly possible to go to UBC and end up much better prepared for grad school. The clue is to take education into your own hands and to self-study a lot.

    It is perfectly possible to get into grad school from UBC. But there are some benefits if you end up going to Berkeley and UCLA instead:
    - Better students meaning you get encouraged and pushed further by your peers
    - More research opportunities
    - Perhaps more advanced classes

    Whether this is worth it, that is up to you. Personally, I would go to UBC and self-study a lot.
  4. Apr 5, 2016 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    If the extra c. $50K cost of Berkeley or USC would have to be covered by loans, I would definitely prefer UBC. IMO physics is not a field where it makes sense to take on large amounts of debt, unlike medicine or some other professional fields.
  5. Apr 7, 2016 #4


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    Education Advisor

    To the OP,

    I'm a Canadian citizen as well (actually, a dual Canadian/American citizen), and while I did not graduate from UBC, I am familiar with the school and a number of students who have graduated there. UBC is a great school with a strong reputation in the STEM fields, including both engineering and physics. I am confident that you will receive an excellent education at UBC, certainly on par with what is offered at Berkeley or UCLA, at far less cost (if you were offered scholarships at Berkeley or UCLA the situation may be different).

    As far as grad school is concerned, it really does not matter that much where you go to school for undergrad -- if you succeed in your studies, you have just as strong a chance to pursue graduate studies as anyone else. Many UBC graduates have gone on to pursue graduate studies (both within Canada and the US).

    If I were you, just looking at cost alone (which is the criteria you have brought up), then I would choose UBC. But the decision is ultimately up to you.
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