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Where to go for Physics undergrad

  1. Oct 16, 2009 #1
    I am trying to decide between Williams and Yale for physics. What are peoples thoughts on each program? I might double major in math too.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2009 #2
    Yale is obviously the larger program, with more faculty and a graduate program as well as an undergraduate program. This changes the environment of your college experience... in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. Obviously with more faculty and a strong graduate program, you'd likely be able to easily find work in a lab... which is critical experience to have, especially if you plan on applying to graduate programs. When I was on a selection committee for CU Boulder a few years back, our strongest candidate was from Yale. On the other hand, in a larger program, you do have to individually be a bit more aggressive about seeking good advising about classwork and non-classwork academic experiences (such as research, physics clubs like SPS, etc.)... it's easier to get a bit lost.

    At Williams, there's significantly fewer faculty so you'd be more likely to know the faculty well. Note however, that there are several programs affiliated with the department, such a a pre-engineering program (since engineering BS degrees are not offered at the institution). It does appear like many of the recent graduates went on to very good graduate programs or employment (see the recent graduate page on their web site)... but note that those programs aren't always "Physics". In some ways, this is good (if you're not 100% sure about a graduate degree in physics... since the faculty will be willing to advise you in other directions)... but of course overall, it would be a bit harder to switch majors since the college is overall smaller as well. This is especially important if you're thinking about a possible switch to engineering (getting a BS in engineering is pretty important if you want "Professional Engineer" certification, since the certification board presently only allows you to take the certification tests if you have a bachelors in engineering -- a bachelor's in another degree and an MS degree or higher in engineering DOESN'T presently qualify you for the tests).
  4. Oct 16, 2009 #3
    I have heard that Yale' physics and math program has a lot of problems. Williams has clearly done an outstanding job as of late for grad schools. Is there a similar list of past Yalies?
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