2017 Best Colleges for Physics in America

The Best Colleges for Physics ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. The ranking compares the top physics programs in the U.S.
See how this ranking was calculated
Viewing 1-25 of 91
  1. 1

    Harvard University

    • Cambridge, MA
    • 619 reviews
    Alum:Harvard University offers the most incredible experience for its students. From the rich history to the esteemed faculty to the vibrant atmosphere of Harvard Square, it is truly one of a kind and inspiring. During my time at Harvard, I got to dance to Gangnam Style with Psy, read a Gutenberg Bible, study and work under my hero, perform fMRIs, and eat brunch in what is essentially the Great Hall of Hogwarts. I cannot begin to tell you the opportunities available here nor what you will learn from working and studying alongside people from all over the world. Harvard also tries to promote diversity further by offering a needs-blind application process and a financial aid package that guarantees you will not have to turn down your acceptance due to financial hardship! Harvard truly takes care of its students, giving them every opportunity imaginable and giving them an experience they will never forget.
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  2. 2
    College Freshman:I absolutely love my school and I wouldn't change it at all! It's probably the most stressful, hard, and demanding thing I've done up to now but that's what I love about it! It's a challenge and it really is intense but the people I've met, my friends, help me through it all and I love that! The community at MIT is amazing too, there are so many different people on campus both mainstream and off-stream(I guess that's how you say it?) but that makes everyday much better in an open and accepting campus.
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  3. 3

    California Institute of Technology

    • Pasadena, CA
    • 106 reviews
    Freshman:As a freshman in the second term, the experience here has been pretty positive. The coursework is definitely challenging, but it keeps me motivated to pursue higher goals. I am extremely grateful for finding such a like-minded community of scholars who are supportive and caring.
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  4. 4

    Stanford University

    • Stanford, CA
    • 1,087 reviews
    Sophomore:I've really enjoyed Stanford so far.
    Academics are certainly challenging, but rewarding, and students usually aren't excessively stressed about grades.
    Professors are, for the most part, incredibly knowledgeable and care about students, but there are some (particularly those teaching intro classes) who could use some improvement.
    The local area can be a bit expensive and far away (especially without a car).
    Currently, the administration is facing a lot of criticism about the school's handling of sexual assault. It's not the best situation, but a lot of the criticism also comes from Stanford's own professors and students, so I do still feel relatively safe and supported on campus.
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  5. 5

    Princeton University

    • Princeton, NJ
    • 383 reviews
    Freshman:I love Princeton! The financial aid is incredible, the campus is beautiful, and the academics are really fantastic. While things can get stressful, the University tries to provide resources to combat that (even though CPS is massively backlogged, which can make things tough). Because the grade deflation policy is over, a lot of the old stress is gone!

    The social scene can be a little odd because of eating clubs (which is definitely something for incoming freshmen to be aware of), but it's definitely navigable and plenty of upperclassmen are really cool and helpful when it comes to social stuff.

    The experience of a lot of people of color tends to differ from white students (like myself), so this is definitely something to take into consideration. It can be tough because there's so much privilege on the campus, so a lot of the dialogue surrounding the experiences of people of color and people of lower classes can be difficult to navigate.
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  6. 6

    Yale University

    • New Haven, CT
    • 913 reviews
    Freshman:Yale managed to exceed my expectations. I originally chose Yale because of how genuine every student I met was and that perception continues to persist. I have met the most interesting and talented people while at Yale and have made some of the closest friends. One moment we'll be discussing a bio problem set, the next discussing the real solution to economic disparity, the next talking about our upbringings. While it's easy to think of Yale as a competitive college, I think that's far from the truth. I have never collaborated as much as I have at Yale. Everyone wants the best for each other and grades are not a focus. The social scene at Yale is also great. Frat parties are open to anyone for the most part and it's very easy to get integrated with Greek life members even if you aren't in it yourself. Just based off of the year I've been here, I can already say that Yale has changed me to be a more well-rounded person.
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  7. 7

    University of Chicago

    • Chicago, IL
    • 1,104 reviews
    College Sophomore:My experience at UChicago so far has been wonderful! There is such a variety of courses to choose from, and so many interesting majors are available. All of the courses are respectable and worth taking. The professors and TA's are all very experienced in their fields, and are very passionate about what they're teaching. The Core classes are usually taught in lecture halls, but also have classes periods that are broken up into smaller groups (during discussion). Other classes can have as few as five students, like my Yucatec Maya class, which allows students to have awesome conversations with their professors and TA's.
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  8. 8

    Bowdoin College

    • Brunswick, ME
    • 640 reviews
    Freshman:Whether its the Outing Club, the Literary Magazine, the Film Society, or an a Capella group, there is always something for every kind of person to get involved in. Also, people here are incredibly friendly and willing to go out of their way to help you. Bowdoin's size, with 1700 students, really enables this sense of community. If I could change one thing about Bowdoin, I would offer class credit for laboratory time. Also , this is just my wish , but I think Bowdoin should advertise more to the outside world. I grew up overseas, so most of my other friends had not heard of Bowdoin, or Brunswick for that matter. I can understand that I was surprised that not many people in United States knew about this school either. The social scene is great on the weekends, but for the most part exists only on the weekends as people work very hard during the week. As for food, you can guess exactly how delicious it is from just taking a peek at the NYtimes article and the college rankings.
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  9. 9

    University of Pennsylvania

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 1,105 reviews
    Graduate Student:Like any colleges, Penn has both pros and cons. As a graduate student in the School of Social Policy and Practice at Penn (Master's of Social Work), I find that the biggest strength of Penn is its wide reach of professional network, research, etc.

    The amount of resources/networking opportunities available for developing insight, experience, and others is unimaginable here at Penn. Having deep connections with all three sectors of the non-profit, for-profit, and governmental world brings its students enormous opportunities and information/knowledge to learn and grow from.

    The cons, however, is that Penn as a whole seems a bit lacking in terms of student activism and engagement. There are clubs to join. But, I rarely see them out in the quad or the walkway outreaching or being vocal about a variety of issues students are concerned with in this age and time.
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  10. 10

    Columbia University

    • New York, NY
    • 1,083 reviews
    Graduate Student:I am currently enrolled in graduate school at the prestigious Columbia University. I am impressed with the level of diversity at Columbia. There is a majority minority. Most of my seminars are comprised of Asian, Indian students I myself am typically the only African American student. I believe that Columbia truly wants their students to thrive. They bring in some of the best professors from the corporate world. For instances in one of my courses I have three different professors. Each have a very different perspective and method of teaching. I will say that I am disappointed that there are not more scholarships available to graduate students; I am working a full-time job in addition to taking a full course load so that I can graduate in a two year span and pay for school. Mind you I have a 3.8 G.P.A I believe that their should be some source of funding other than loans for students in my situation.
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  11. 11

    Cornell University

    • Ithaca, NY
    • 1,722 reviews
    College Junior:My experience at Cornell had been a whirlwind of endless opportunities. It has absolutely had it's ups and downs, with times where the stress and fast pace of classes seems to be unbearable, but usually when that happens a break was right around the corner and there was time to catch up. All the students at this school, from the engineers to the Hotelies, are used to being the top of their class in high school. It takes some getting used to learn that not everyone can be the best at this university.

    That being said, Cornell can offer you the change to truly impact the world in whatever field you pursue. Your plant science degree with lead to cutting edge research, your business major with give you connections others need years to build and your engineering degree will give you your choice of career straight out of college. But that diploma does not come easy, you will have to work relentlessly for four years to earn it (five years if you're studying architecture!).

    Looking back to choosing this university my senior year of high school, I wouldn't change a thing. My experience has been far from perfect: I've experienced failure just like the rest of my peers. I'm not, however, the same person I was in high school and this is a good thing. Cornell has changed me for the better and I highly recommend you let it do the same to you!
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  12. 12

    Brown University

    • Providence, RI
    • 918 reviews
    College Freshman:Professors, even in large lecture classes, are always approachable and friendly. They are open to extensions when asked and even small talk. However, with the amount of time you have with each professor (this also depends on the size of the class) it's unlikely for you to become very friendly with any teachers throughout college unless you take initiative.

    Classes can range from 7 people to 200. There are a variety of options, usually intro classes are big while seminars, language classes, and specific topic classes are smaller. With large classes there is an immense amount of TAs that are always available to help. They also run review/discussion sections to allow students to ask specific questions and get advice from experts who already aced the class.

    Most classes, in the humanities, make you do a lot of reading, have a smaller discussion section, and then 2-4 big assignments like midterms, finals, essays, take home exams, etc.

    The variety of courses speaks for itself. There are too many choices and they are all interesting!
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  13. 13

    Washington University in St. Louis

    • Saint Louis, MO
    • 1,323 reviews
    Freshman:WUSTL is a fantastic university! I first came here because of the prestigious pre-med program, comfy dorms, yummy food, beautiful campus, and great FA. I found all of those here to be true. My experience truly has been an excellent one. Although the academics are undoubtedly challenging, it is equally rewarding.
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  14. 14

    University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

    • Ann Arbor, MI
    • 3,769 reviews
    Senior:The education that you receive here is definitely unbeatable. The campus is also a generally fun place to be. It is really competitive so that permeates the culture quite a bit, which I could do without. The university's commitment to diversity and inclusion is lacking, but they are making steps to change that going forward so I hope that there will be more positive steps in that area. You don't really get a sense of the local area because the campus is so large it really dominates the city of Ann Arbor. So, even when you venture out in the city a bit, it still feels like you're on campus. It's just very much a college town, so if you're into that, you'll love it!
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  15. 15

    University of Notre Dame

    • South Bend, IN
    • 1,216 reviews
    Niche User:I attended Notre Dame's Summer Scholars Program. So, I will give my perspective on that experience. At the beginning of the session, the Dean told us it would be "life changing." Indeed, it was. The friends, the environment, the professors and the spirituality of this campus is unmatched. The grounds are impeccable and incredibly gorgeous with flowers everywhere. Based on my experience, I have changed my career goals- a life changing experience. I have had lots of college experiences since age 3. Notre Dame, without exception, is the FINEST. I am a triplet and I speak for my siblings too. We are ND fans and always will be.
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  16. 16

    University of California - Berkeley

    • Berkeley, CA
    • 3,635 reviews
    Senior:My experience at UC Berkeley has been amazing. The professors are my favorite part. They are so knowledgeable, and some are even famous, in their field of study. The best part? They genuinely care about our, the students, growth! UC Berkeley professors are not just looking for a pay check, they are looking to share knowledge with students that they believe are important. My least favorite part of Cal, housing. Ugh! Good housing is not only hard to come by, but its inflated! I hope UC Berkeley looks into creating more affordable and comfortable student housing.
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  17. 17

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    • Atlanta, GA
    • 1,817 reviews
    Freshman:Georgia Tech really challenges its students, not only because of its prestige but because it wants to expand the minds and boundaries of those who study there. The university takes advantage of Atlanta, and its connections with industry leaders to exceptionally prepare its students for jobs. While some aspects of the campus leave something to be desired, like the food and the stress, Georgia Tech ultimately provides its students with a wonderfully fun and engaging experience!
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  18. 18

    University of Virginia

    • Charlottesville, VA
    • 2,004 reviews
    Freshman:I love the University of Virginia! Grounds are beautiful, and so many interesting classes are offered. I am going to double major in music and bio/neuroscience, and there are so many options available to me. The student body is very large and so anyone can find a group of people they love and fit in with. The classes and professors are great, and I will agree that there are many reasons why UVA is highly esteemed.
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  19. 19

    University of Wisconsin

    • Madison, WI
    • 2,821 reviews
    Freshman:There is something for everyone! The University of Wisconsin-Madison boasts a lot of offerings, not only in academics but in all sorts of opportunities from amazing athletic programs to a myriad of clubs to get into. To the sports enthusiast, UW-Madison has athletic programs in football, ice hockey, and basketball which are renowned regionally, if not also nationally. To the grade-A active student, UW-Madison is also a mecca of infinite opportunities, it is even somewhat of a challenge for any student to navigate the "Org Fair" which displays the many student organizations that are available on campus. Organizations are available for students who are the soon-to-be titans of energy and even for the ones who are almost certainly going to be the consulting executives of the future. No matter what you want to get yourself into, there is always something for you in the land of the Badgers.
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  20. 20

    Carnegie Mellon University

    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • 1,299 reviews
    Alum:Carnegie Mellon is tough, no doubt about it. But it's also a place where you'll be pushed and surrounded by other talented and passionate people working hard too. You bond over that and I made awesome friends who will always be close no matter the years and distance. It can be very stressful, but making it through did convince me that I could persevere through anything, something that has benefitted me a lot out in the working world. I'll always prefer to hire CMU graduates because I of this.

    Sports? Nah. Don't go there for sports. Campus? A lot better now then when I was there! Dorms? They're OK but moved off campus after 1st year. Parties? Well my group of friends had a lot of house parties but this was more Art, Design, Drama and random stragglers group ;) Pittsburgh? Wasn't convinced at the time (wanted to be in NYC) but it's a good place to go to school - enough to do, fairly safe, pretty cheap to live, plenty of arts and culture if you want it, decent food, etc.
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  21. 21

    Carleton College

    • Northfield, MN
    • 466 reviews
    Freshman:The school has an incredibly open community; cliques are fluid and almost anyone is welcome and can feel comfortable sitting with any group. Dining hall food is great, although there are few good restaurants in the area. Classes are fantastic and the trimester system works very well for people who live far away (winter break extends from before thanksgiving to after new years). In addition, the trimester system allows students to fit three academic terms into one year while focusing more intensely on less during those terms, all the while still leaving room for a long winter break.
    The biggest downside for me is that students seem less individual and more self-effacing than some other similar liberal arts colleges.
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  22. 22

    Harvey Mudd College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 122 reviews
    College Freshman:Although Harvey Mudd is very difficult, and teachers will definitely push you with hard coursework, I've so far rarely felt alone. Teachers are accessible, there are always other classmates to work with and get help from, and the environment feels very positive in general, with a lot of interest in the wellbeing of the students. It's a great challenge.
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  23. 23

    University of Texas - Austin

    • Austin, TX
    • 5,368 reviews
    Junior:I love being a student at the University of Texas. It is one of the most renowned public education institutions in the world, and has plenty of activities to be involved in outside of academia. There are countless clubs and organizations on campus, and the surrounding city of Austin is one the best places in the country. However, be warned: it may not be for everyone. With around 50,000+ students, the size can be intimidating to some. I personally enjoy the incredible amount of people I can meet and study with, and the size gives me a nice perspective. There is always something going on on campus; whether it's a basketball game, club fair, jam session, food stand, party - you name it - there is always something close to keep you occupied. Being a musician, living in Ausin and attending UT is the best college experience I could've asked for. Come to UT. Hook 'em Horns!
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  24. 24
    Alum:UNC Chapel Hill - the name rings familiarity across the nation. A part of one of the biggest college basketball rivals, a leader in NC healthcare, and known for the specificity of "Carolina blue," UNC is a treasure. Nostalgia hits me every time I return: the campus is beautiful, the students are all on their way to achieving greatness, and the professors genuinely care about what goes on in their the students' minds. Diversity is not that high - as probably 60% of the students want to become doctors and nurses. The racial diversity is representative of the statistics in America. The culture diversity, however, is rather high and incorporating of all activities that I can think of. Overall, a fantastic institution!
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  25. 25

    New York University

    • New York, NY
    • 4,762 reviews
    Freshman:Through the Global Liberal Studies program's Core Program I spent my first year abroad in Florence, Italy living on a bequeathed estate! I was accepted to this program because I showed an interest in the Humanities, and checked the box on the application rating my preferences for the global academic sites which also include Paris, London, & Washington DC. The best things I love about the campus is the Office of Student Life staff who are peppy (especially Jillian) and super helpful whenever you have a question. In addition, they also host all-expense paid trips all over Italy, so I highly recommend. Lastly, the campus has La Pietra Dialogues which hosts leading minds across a wide array of topics. Last semester I was able to meet the US diplomat to Italy, the head of Bloomberg News, and Angela Davis! Need I say more?
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