Best Colleges and Universities for Physics Degrees

The best physics degree programs are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best physics degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding physics faculty.

Best Colleges and Universities for Physics Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in physics is an excellent starting point for a career in engineering, alternative energy, space exploration, and a host of other exciting and rapidly innovating fields. As a physics major, you’ll study subjects such as calculus, mechanics, and thermodynamics. Your degree will incorporate a variety of branches within math and physics, including astrophysics, biophysics, and quantum physics. The best schools for physics are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of physics concentrations, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

Frequently Asked Questions About Physics Bachelor’s Degrees

Earning a bachelor’s degree in physics can open numerous professional doors, particularly in the field of engineering. A physics degree can help prepare you for work as an engineering technician, data scientist, or geologist. It’s also a great starting point if you plan to eventually pursue a license to be a professional engineer (PE), or if you intend to continue into an advanced degree program and become a research scientist, physicist, or astronomer. The best schools for physics will put you in a position to become an innovator and a leader in this exciting and challenging field.

Today, top influencers in physics are breaking new ground in Mathematical Physics, Quantum Field Theory, Theoretical Physics, and much more.

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Physics is a great major because it can serve as the starting point for a number of well-paying careers. For instance, physicists and astronomers earned a median of $122,220 per year in 2019; geoscientists earned a median salary of $92,040; and industrial engineers saw a median of $88,020 in the same year. A bachelor’s degree in physics gives you the chance to choose between these and a wide range of other pathways where salaries and the rate of job growth are much higher than the average for all professions.

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Once you’ve declared your major in physics, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of STEM-related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized physics electives, there are several common courses that most physics majors will be required to take, including:

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Modern Physics
  • Calculus
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Differential Equations
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Waves and Optics
  • Statistical Physics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics

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Earning a degree in physics can qualify you for a number of well-paying jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for physicists and astronomers is expected to grow at a rate of 5% by 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. For industrial engineers, that rate is even higher, at 10%. Depending on your concentration, a degree in physics could help you make the jump into one of these high-growth sectors. The following are among the most popular jobs for physics majors:

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Best Colleges and Universities for Physics Degree Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.

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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.

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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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The Best Colleges and Universities for Physics Degrees

Best Physics Major Research Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. Princeton University
  4. Stanford University
  5. CalTech – California Institute of Technology

Go to The Best Physics Major Research Universities

Best Physics Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Swarthmore College
  2. Williams College
  3. Amherst College
  4. Wellesley College
  5. Pomona College

Go to The Best Physics Major Liberal Arts Colleges

The Best Physics Schools in Your State

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