Best Research Universities for Physics Degrees

Best Research Universities for Physics Degrees

The best physics research universities 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.

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 Research Universities for Physics Degree Programs

If you think a liberal arts college may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best liberal arts colleges for a bachelor’s in physics.

Best Research Universities for Physics Degrees

  1. #1

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    Harvard University Physics Majors

    • Joint concentrations Physics-Mathematics
    • Physics-Astronomy
    • Physics-History of Science
    • Chemistry-Physics

    Source

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1540/35

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  3. #3

    Princeton University

    Princeton , NJ
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

  4. #4

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/33

    Stanford University Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics
    • BS in Engineering Physics

    Source

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

    California Institute of Technology Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    University of California, Berkeley Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  7. #7

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

  8. #8

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $64K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

  9. #9

    Cornell University

    Ithaca , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

  10. #10

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

  11. #11

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    University of Pennsylvania Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  12. #12

    Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    Johns Hopkins University Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  13. #13

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    26%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    University of Michigan Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics
    • BS or BA in Interdisciplinary Physics
    • Teacher Certification in Physics

    Source

  14. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is University of California, Los Angeles known for?

    University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of California, Los Angeles Physics Majors

    • BS in Astrophysics
    • BS in Biophysics
    • BS in Physics
    • BA in General Physics

    Source

  15. #15

    Rice University

    Houston , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    Rice University Physics Majors

    • BA in Astronomy
    • BA in Physics
    • BS in Astrophysics
    • BS in Physics – Applied Physics
    • BS in Physics – Biological Physics
    • BS in Physics – Computational Physics
    • BS in Physics – General Physics
    • BS in Chemical Physics

    Source

  16. #16

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1525/34

    Duke University Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics
    • BA in Physics
    • BS in Biophysics
    • BA in Biophysics
    • Physics – Concentration in Astrophysics

    Source

  17. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1355/30

    University of Texas at Austin Physics Majors

    • BS or BA in Physics
    • BS Physics – General
    • BS Physics – Computation
    • BS Physics – Radiation Physics
    • BS Physics – Space Sciences
    • BS Physics – Teaching
    • BS Physics – Physics Honors
    • BS Physics – Biophysics

    Source

  18. #18

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    Brown University Physics Majors

    • Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Physics
    • BS Physics – Astrophysics
    • BS Physics – Biological Physics
    • BS Physics – Mathematical Physics
    • BA Physics – Mathematical Physics

    Source

  19. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    University of Southern California Physics Majors

    • BA or BS in Physics
    • Physics – Astronomy
    • Physics – Biophysics
    • Physics – Physics and Computer Science
    • Physics – Physical Science

    Source

  20. #21

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/34

    Northwestern University Physics Majors

    • BS in Physics

    Source

  21. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    University of Washington BS in Physics Major Tracks

    • Comprehensive track
    • Applied physics track
    • Biological physics track
    • Teaching physics track

    Source

    University of Washington’s Online Degrees

    BA Integrated Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA Early Care & Education
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  22. #23

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    49K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    New York University Physics Majors

    • BA and BS in Physics

    Source

  23. #24

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    Carnegie Mellon University Physics Majors

    • Major and Minor Physics

    Source

Go to all Research Universities for Physics programs

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