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What are some good Physics-focused colleges?

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  • Thread starter MrJoshie333
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm a sophomore in highschool, and all my teachers and my parents are telling me that I should start to think about college. I have a leaning towards the sciences, specifically math and quantum and particle physics.

Are there any colleges out there that have a good physics/math focus, besides colleges like Berkeley and MIT?
 

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  • #3
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What do you mean by "besides college like Berkeley and MIT"? What subset of colleges do you want excluded?
 
  • #4
berkeman
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Are there any colleges out there that have a good physics/math focus, besides colleges like Berkeley and MIT?
Caltech in southern California is probably the classic physics-centric college. Here's a documentary on typical student life at Caltech:

:smile:

upload_2019-1-25_6-56-35.png
 

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  • #5
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There should be more to college than just your major. At the undergraduate level, most state universities do a decent job of practically all majors. I suggest that as a high school student, it is way too early to narrow your focus to this extent.
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
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There should be more to college than just your major. At the undergraduate level, most state universities do a decent job of practically all majors. I suggest that as a high school student, it is way too early to narrow your focus to this extent.
I strongly echo this. I've seen students from small, less-known, non-brand name universities getting into extremely competitive universities for graduate school.

You do not have to go to a "physics focus" school to get a very good physics education. Even small, liberal arts colleges graduate students who get into top schools for physics. The "only thing" you need to do is get very good grades wherever you are.

Zz.
 
  • #7
robphy
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Some possibly useful articles and data:
https://www.chronicle.com/article/So-What-Are-You-Going-to-Do/244619

https://www.aip.org/statistics/undergraduate
https://www.aip.org/statistics/data-graphics/physics-bachelors-degrees-awarded-us-classes-1955-through-2014
https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/field-employment-new-physics-bachelors
https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/typical-starting-salaries-physics-bachelors
https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/skills-used-regularly-new-physics-bachelors-employed-stem-fields
https://www.aip.org/statistics/data-graphics/field-graduate-study-physics-bachelors-one-year-after-degree-classes-2013
https://www.aip.org/statistics/data-graphics/percent-physics-bachelors-and-phds-earned-women-classes-1975-through-2016
https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/african-american-bachelors

While universities-with-PhD-programs are usually where folks look,
there are some active undergraduate colleges and universities to look at
https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/undergrad/bachdegrees-p-14.pdf#page=8
(BS-only posted below. See the .pdf for places up to MS and up to PhD.)
upload_2019-1-25_10-50-21.png

(older list: May be useful to see changes.
https://www.aip.org/statistics/data-graphics/bachelor’s-only-departments-averaging-10-or-more-physics-bachelor’s-degrees )

(While I attended universities-with-PhD-programs, I was unaware of the strong undergraduate-only programs.
I have taught at 5 of the places in this list and have found very good students,
some heading off to graduate school in physics, in engineering, or elsewhere.

The list seems incomplete to me [another place I worked isn't on this list]...
possibly because the schools didn't self-report.
In addition, there are some good colleges in the Philadelphia area that are missing.

Don't let "sticker shock" drive you away from some of these places.
Some are generous [possibly surprisingly so] with financial aid.
)
 

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  • #8
CrysPhys
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To: MrJoshie333

I agree with other posters who recommend that, for an undergraduate physics education, you expand the list of candidate schools beyond the list of top physics graduate research universities. Although there are advantages to having access to top-flight research facilities on campus, they are not suited for every student. So you should consider a variety of candidate schools, and decide what's best for you. And many small colleges have affiliations with major research universities. I've served as a mentor for a number of physics students. Carleton, as one example, has a strong undergraduate physics program. And if you are in fact a Ms instead of a Mr, you should also consider Wellesley: besides a strong undergraduate physics program of its own, it has an exchange program with MIT.
 
  • #9
Dr. Courtney
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I tend to recommend undergraduates prioritize earning their BS debt free above attending a top school in physics.

In most cases in the US, this means eschewing expensive private schools and out of state schools (unless you score really big in scholarship money) and focusing on the better schools in your home state (in state tuition is often far less expensive). Making a short list of the best undergrad physics schools in a given state is much easier.
 

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