What Constitutes a "Reputable" Program? I went on a different forum (physics) and was looking at the applicant's who got accepted into great grad schools. It is far from any rigorous conclusions, but it seems that the ones who came from reputable programs were more likely to enter top notch programs. And actually, it was stressed by a couple of folks that being at a reputable program is very important for getting into top programs. So what constitutes reputable undergraduate programs? What is going on in the minds of admission faculty? Do they simple rate the reputation of a program from its college "ranking?" Edit: I over-generalized. I was speaking of students who applied for theoretical physics in grad school--which is already competitive enough as it is.