Which Florida school is the best for undergraduate physics?

  • #1
dect117
25
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I got accepted into both FSU and UCF (I would've chosen UF, but I missed the application deadline). I keep hearing really good things about FSU's program, but it'd be a lot more convenient for me to go to UCF for more than one reason.
That being said, is FSU's undergraduate physics program that much better than UCF's? Or is the difference negligible? Also, since I plan on pursuing a graduate degree, does it matter where I get my bachelor's? Assuming you have a good GPA and whatnot, does, say, MIT really care?
 

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  • #2
Dr. Courtney
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University of Florida and FSU have comparable physics programs. I'd rate Florida slightly higher. Both are in my top 50, as well as the top 50 as ranked by various sources.

UCF is usually ranked between 150-200 nationally, and I tend to agree with that.

Odds are far worse for you to get into a top 20 (much less a top 5) graduate school from UCF compared with U of F or FSU.
 
  • #3
clope023
992
130
I got accepted into both FSU and UCF (I would've chosen UF, but I missed the application deadline). I keep hearing really good things about FSU's program, but it'd be a lot more convenient for me to go to UCF for more than one reason.
That being said, is FSU's undergraduate physics program that much better than UCF's? Or is the difference negligible? Also, since I plan on pursuing a graduate degree, does it matter where I get my bachelor's? Assuming you have a good GPA and whatnot, does, say, MIT really care?

What kind of Physics do you want to do?

If you wanted to do optics for example, UCF would be the clear choice since they have a large photonics center

http://www.creol.ucf.edu/

FSU if you wanted to do nuclear or something related to Material Science since they have the national high magnetic field lab

https://nationalmaglab.org/

I went to a lesser known university in Florida than either FSU or UCF for physics (FIU), and we still had collaborations with CERN and Princeton's Plasma Physics lab and other high profile labs and they've had people go on to places like Michigan, MIT, and Caltech among others for grad school, post docs, and professorships; so it's not like you're barred from a high ranking grad program if you came from a lesser known school.
 
  • #4
dect117
25
1
What kind of Physics do you want to do?
Right now, the two fields that interest me the most are astrophysics and quantum mechanics. I'm gravitating (pun intended) more towards astrophysics since I just don't think I have what it takes to really excel at quantum mechanics. Either way, though, I have very little interest in optics, but then again, the same is true for material science.
 
  • #5
Dr. Courtney
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What kind of Physics do you want to do?

Having mentored a number of STEM majors, I don't think it's realistic to expect undergraduates to know what kind of physics they want to do especially so early in the process they they are still picking a school.

I tend to recommend departments with good reputations across a number of disciplines, as well as good reputations in math, chemistry, and engineering, because a lot of solid STEM students end up changing disciplines at some point.

For myself, I sampled research opportunities in biology, astro, nuclear, biophysics, and atomic physics and was a senior before I decided for certain that atomic physics was my preferred path.
 
  • #6
clope023
992
130
Right now, the two fields that interest me the most are astrophysics and quantum mechanics. I'm gravitating (pun intended) more towards astrophysics since I just don't think I have what it takes to really excel at quantum mechanics. Either way, though, I have very little interest in optics, but then again, the same is true for material science.

Ah someone's been watching/reading too much pop sci!

Quantum mechanics isn't so much a research area as it is a research tool; people research applications of QM like quantum computing, semiconductors, and definitely materials!

Hell the idea for the Higgs Boson discovered by CERN came from material science phenomena (from what I understand).

If we're only going by generalities, FSU might be the better choice due to the fact that it probably has more funding, resources, connections, and research opportunities (due to that funding); but if UCF is more convenient, especially if you don't have to worry about room and board and such, then you can worry more about your grades and research and you'd arguably be in a better position for grad school than if you'd went to FSU and had to worry about more things which take away from your study time.

Best to keep an open mind about which type of physics you're open to; I've met plenty of physics majors who wanted to be pencil and paper theorists and shunned things like programming and electronics and that needlessly limits the opportunities that could be coming your way, don't do that!

Best of luck!
 

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