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Physics is the kind of major no one quite gets – very few peo­ple out­side of the sci­en­tif­ic field know exact­ly what a physics degree is or what a physics major does. But for stu­dents who are inter­est­ed in careers in the hard sci­ences, engi­neer­ing, edu­ca­tion, or any num­ber of oth­er tech­no­log­i­cal fields, a bachelor’s in physics from one of the top schools is an excel­lent first step.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties of what job you can get with a physics degree are even more var­ied if you have addi­tion­al or advanced degrees and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Phys­i­cal Soci­ety, most peo­ple who have a bachelor’s in physics don’t go on to pur­sue more advanced degrees in the dis­ci­pline. But they may com­plete fur­ther study in relat­ed fields, such as engi­neer­ing and med­i­cine. Jobs with an under­grad­u­ate degree in physics can be found in health­care, too. Roles in this sec­tor are var­ied, rang­ing from lab­o­ra­to­ry tech­ni­cian to opti­cal engineer.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Physics Degree Programs

Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors know that physics stu­dents are smart stu­dents. That’s why BDC’s rank­ing of the best physics schools in Amer­i­ca focus­es on accred­it­ed, respect­ed insti­tu­tions, ranked accord­ing to prac­ti­cal con­cerns for the stu­dent who wants a degree that will pay off: tuition cost, stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion, and poten­tial salary. Because school rank­ings should tell you what you want to know.

1. Stanford University

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty is known for the Depart­ment of Physics. In fact, rough­ly half of all under­grad­u­ate stu­dents at Stan­ford take physics class­es. Stan­ford has cer­tain­ly earned its rep­u­ta­tion for hav­ing one of the best Physics degree pro­grams in the world. Stu­dents here take part in research oppor­tu­ni­ties. In the class­room, stu­dents ben­e­fit from a hands-on learn­ing approach from bril­liant fac­ul­ty members.

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty is a well-known and deeply respect­ed uni­ver­si­ty. Stu­dents who grad­u­ate from Stan­ford gain a com­pet­i­tive edge just by hav­ing the Stan­ford name at the top of their resumes. The aca­d­e­mics here are com­plex, chal­leng­ing, and geared toward career suc­cess. Stan­ford has many great areas of study, but it tru­ly stands out when it comes to the sciences.

What We Like: Stan­ford University’s research bud­get has reached $1.63 bil­lion, and it has thou­sands of exter­nal­ly-spon­sored research projects.

Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy, in Cam­bridge, MA, is one of the top sci­ence-focused schools in the world. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, MIT’S Physics pro­gram is one of the best Physics degree pro­grams avail­able today. This pro­gram pre­pares stu­dents for either pro­fes­sion­al work or con­tin­ued study, depend­ing on their needs and goals. Stu­dents can choose from the “focused” plan for future physi­cists or the “flex­i­ble” plan for oth­er career seekers.

MIT is home to future physi­cists, engi­neers, and oth­ers who excel in sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy. This school is a leader in both aca­d­e­mics and research, and it has a rep­u­ta­tion for inno­va­tion. Some of the world’s most impor­tant sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies came from MIT. This school was found­ed to sup­port the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion, and it’s been advanc­ing Amer­i­can entre­pre­neur­ship from day one.

What We Like: 59 Medal of Sci­ence Win­ners have come from MIT.

Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy Physics

3. Harvard University

Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Physics pro­gram is, unsur­pris­ing­ly, one of the best Physics degree pro­grams avail­able today. Stu­dents learn in fair­ly small cohorts with­in this pro­gram, so they can get to know their pro­fes­sors and fel­low stu­dents. Stu­dents can also choose from sev­er­al con­cen­tra­tions, includ­ing Math­e­mat­ics, the His­to­ry of Sci­ence, and more. This pro­gram pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for under­grad­u­ates to par­tic­i­pate in research, so it makes a top choice for those who want hands-on participation.

Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty is the old­est high­er edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion in the Unit­ed States. Har­vard is known for its aca­d­e­m­ic excel­lence and world-chang­ing research. Stu­dents come to Har­vard from all over the world, know­ing that this school can help them reach their fullest poten­tial. Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents often move on to make a big dif­fer­ence in their com­mu­ni­ties and around the world.

What We Like: 48 Pulitzer Prize win­ners have come from Har­vard University.

Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Physics

4. Yale University

Yale University’s Depart­ment of Physics offers sev­er­al sci­ence degree options, includ­ing one of the best Physics under­grad­u­ate pro­grams in the Unit­ed States. Stu­dents work close­ly with fac­ul­ty mem­bers in this pro­gram. Not only do they con­duct their own research projects, they also get to work along­side fac­ul­ty mem­bers on uni­ver­si­ty research. Class­es pro­vide equal amounts of chal­lenge and flex­i­bil­i­ty, and stu­dents move on to excit­ing and worth­while careers.

Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, in New Haven, CT, is a research and aca­d­e­m­ic leader among col­leges. The school has a rich his­to­ry, and it con­tin­ues to make a dif­fer­ence in the world to this day. With mul­ti­ple libraries and fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tions, Yale shows how its past cre­at­ed a sol­id foun­da­tion for its present and future. Some of the world’s top pro­fes­sors teach at Yale, which is why Yale is a top choice for aca­d­e­m­ic achievers.

What We Like: Yale has a high per­cent­age of inter­na­tion­al stu­dents. Stu­dents who go to Yale have lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn about var­i­ous cultures.

Yale Uni­ver­si­ty’s Depart­ment of Physics

5. Princeton University

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty offers a Sci­ence degree with a con­cen­tra­tion in Physics. In this pro­gram, stu­dents gain a deep­er under­stand­ing of how the uni­verse works. It cov­ers a wide range of top­ics, which is why it’s one of the best Physics degree schools avail­able. Many stu­dents in this pro­gram move on to careers in physics, while many oth­ers use their physics knowl­edge as a foun­da­tion for oth­er careers. In any case, these stu­dents ben­e­fit from excel­lent aca­d­e­mics and lots of stu­dent activities.

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, in Prince­ton, New Jer­sey, has a long his­to­ry of aca­d­e­m­ic excel­lence, and it’s one of the most well-rec­og­nized schools in the Unit­ed States. Prince­ton is more than just aca­d­e­mics, though. It also has a deep com­mit­ment to research and ser­vice. Stu­dents at Prince­ton learn how to use their knowl­edge to make a dif­fer­ence in their com­mu­ni­ties and beyond.

What We Like: 21 peo­ple from Prince­ton have won the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

6. California Institute of Technology

CalTech’s Physics pro­gram is one of the best Physics degree pro­grams in the US today. Cal­Tech has a strong foun­da­tion in physics. In fact, all of CalTech’s under­grads are required to take sev­er­al physics cours­es, although Physics stu­dents take a much deep­er dive into the sub­ject. They learn a core foun­da­tion of physics knowl­edge so that they can move on to grad­u­ate-lev­el studies.

Cal­Tech is a sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy-focused uni­ver­si­ty that attracts stu­dents from all over the globe. Some of the smartest and most accom­plished pro­fes­sors in the world teach at Cal­Tech. This school val­ues inno­va­tion and entre­pre­neur­ship, both in its aca­d­e­mics and in its research. As a result, it makes an excel­lent choice for Physics students.

What We Like: Cal­Tech, in Pasade­na, CA, per­forms research for many world-renowned orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing NASA. As a pri­vate school, Cal­Tech is not affil­i­at­ed with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem like Berkeley.

Cal­Tech’s Physics

7. Columbia University

Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty has a strong Physics pro­gram. It’s count­ed among the best Physics degree pro­grams in the world. This degree path­way takes a more well-round­ed approach than some oth­er pro­grams. Stu­dents get to explore physics as a career, but they also get to see how physics pro­vides a cor­ner­stone for oth­er sci­en­tif­ic dis­ci­plines. This degree com­bines aca­d­e­mics and research oppor­tu­ni­ties for a com­plete sci­en­tif­ic experience.

Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty has a lot of ben­e­fits for stu­dents. Of course, it’s known for strong aca­d­e­mics and chal­leng­ing class­es, but it brings oth­er fac­tors to the table, too. For exam­ple, the New York City loca­tion pro­vides a great back­drop for net­work­ing. Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty serves its stu­dents and the broad­er com­mu­ni­ty. Its dis­cov­er­ies have a pos­i­tive impact on sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy across the world.

What We Like: US News and World Report ranked Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty #3 in their 2021 list of best colleges.

Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

8. Dartmouth University

Dart­mouth Col­lege’s Physics pro­gram is one of the best Physics degree pro­grams in the world. It’s a com­bined major of Physics and Astron­o­my, so stu­dents learn about the phys­i­cal world around them and the phys­i­cal world above. Stu­dents can also alter and cus­tomize their degrees to focus on options like engi­neer­ing. This flex­i­ble approach pro­vides stu­dents with var­i­ous career path­way options. This pro­gram is a pop­u­lar choice among stu­dents who want to make the most of avail­able opportunities.

Dart­mouth Col­lege is a respect­ed school that blends cre­ative think­ing with sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery. It’s a research-focused school, and it has a deep com­mit­ment to inno­va­tion. Stu­dents get to ben­e­fit from those inno­va­tions, both inside and out­side of the class­room. Dart­mouth stu­dents become life­long learn­ers, lead­ers, and inde­pen­dent thinkers.

What We Like: The Carnegie Foun­da­tion rec­og­nized Dart­mouth as hav­ing “very high research activity.”

Dart­mouth Col­lege’s Physics

9. College of William & Mary

The Col­lege of William and Mary offers three Physics degree pro­grams: Stan­dard Physics, Pre-Med Physics, and Engi­neer­ing Physics and Applied Design (EPAD). Thanks to the vari­ety that William and Mary offers, these pro­grams are con­sid­ered some of the best Physics degree pro­grams avail­able. Not only do these pro­grams encour­age orig­i­nal research, they require it. Stu­dents often choose this school when they want the chance to forge their own pathways.

William and Mary is one of the top pub­lic research uni­ver­si­ties in the Unit­ed States. It’s also one of the old­est. Its research is cut­ting edge, and its aca­d­e­mics are designed to stretch stu­dents’ minds. As one of only eight pub­lic Ivy League uni­ver­si­ties, William and Mary pro­vides the same high aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards as pri­vate Ivy League schools, but for many stu­dents, it’s more accessible.

What We Like: William and Mary has one of the top 10 sci­ence lab facil­i­ties in the nation.

William and Mary Physics

10. Wellesley College

Welles­ley Col­lege’s Physics degree pro­gram accom­plish­es a lot in just four years. Stu­dents learn how physics applies to a broad range of top­ics, espe­cial­ly the top­ics that are most rel­e­vant to today’s inno­va­tions. Plus, the pro­gram instills crit­i­cal think­ing skills and flex­i­bil­i­ty so that stu­dents are pre­pared to face an ever-grow­ing field. This pro­gram also comes with some flex­i­bil­i­ty, let­ting stu­dents pre­pare either for a career in the sci­ences or for grad­u­ate school. As a result, it’s con­sid­ered one of the best Physics degree pro­grams in America.

Welles­ley is a wom­en’s col­lege ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing women suc­ceed and grow. This school fos­ters aca­d­e­m­ic excel­lence and com­mu­ni­ty involve­ment. It also fos­ters lead­er­ship skills in its stu­dents, no mat­ter the major. At Welles­ley, stu­dents learn from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary stand­point. They see how their own stud­ies over­lap with oth­er fields, and they learn how to ben­e­fit from and take advan­tage of that knowledge.

What We Like: Over 70% of Welles­ley stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in an intern­ship while at school.

Welles­ley Col­lege Physics

11. University of Notre Dame

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame has two of the best Physics degree pro­grams for sci­ence-mind­ed stu­dents. One is a gen­er­al Physics degree pro­gram that stu­dents can cus­tomize with minors and con­cen­tra­tions if desired. The oth­er is a Physics in Med­i­cine pro­gram that’s geared toward stu­dents who want to go to med­ical school or pur­sue a med­ical tech­nol­o­gy career. Both of these pro­grams cov­er the basics of physics and how to apply physics knowl­edge across dif­fer­ent areas.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame is a Catholic research uni­ver­si­ty that main­tains a com­mit­ment to both faith and sci­ence. This school fos­ters a thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty of learn­ers. Stu­dents learn how to become lead­ers and crit­i­cal thinkers. Along the way, they also put their faith into action, using their knowl­edge and oppor­tu­ni­ties to serve oth­er people.

What We Like: Notre Dame’s Physics pro­gram is ranked in the top 10% of US institutions.

Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame Physics

12. Colgate University

Col­gate Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the best col­leges for physics majors. It includes small class­es, hands-on learn­ing, and excel­lent facil­i­ties. Most impor­tant­ly, it pro­vides stu­dents with a way to learn about some of the most press­ing ques­tions in the world. At its core, Colgate’s Physics pro­gram is a lens to study the uni­verse. Whether stu­dents want to pur­sue grad­u­ate school or an imme­di­ate career in sci­ence, this pro­gram is one of the best Physics degree pro­grams to help them get started.

Col­gate Uni­ver­si­ty is a rig­or­ous school on a love­ly cam­pus. This lib­er­al arts uni­ver­si­ty pro­vides a thor­ough edu­ca­tion. Stu­dents get to dive into their own fields of study with­out sac­ri­fic­ing Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary knowl­edge. This school blends the con­tem­po­rary with the tra­di­tion­al to pro­vide the best of all worlds.

What We Like: 98% of Col­gate stu­dents are employed or in grad­u­ate school with­in a year of graduation.

Col­gate Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

13. Rice University

The Physics pro­gram at Rice Uni­ver­si­ty is well respect­ed among the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty. As a mat­ter of fact, Rice has one of the best Physics degree pro­grams. In this pro­gram, stu­dents build the skills that they need to teach, research, or make the most of oth­er physics careers. No mat­ter their career goals, Rice Physics stu­dents enjoy a com­bi­na­tion of the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal studies.

Rice Uni­ver­si­ty is an inno­v­a­tive, enrich­ing uni­ver­si­ty ded­i­cat­ed to prepar­ing lead­ers for the future. With its aca­d­e­mics and research, Rice encour­ages bold­ness, cre­ative think­ing, and deep study. Rice uses its own name as a state­ment of its val­ues. In this case, RICE stands for Respon­si­bil­i­ty, Integri­ty, Com­mu­ni­ty, and Excel­lence, and it con­sis­tent­ly lives up to those values.

What We Like: Rice Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the Top 20 schools in the Unit­ed States.

Rice Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

14. Carnegie Mellon University

The Physics pro­gram at Carnegie Mel­lon explores all aspects of physics — from the broad­est ques­tions of the uni­verse to the minute details of tech­nol­o­gy. From big to small, this Physics degree empha­sizes ana­lyt­ics and prob­lem-solv­ing. This pro­gram, one of the best Physics degree pro­grams among US uni­ver­si­ties, pre­pares stu­dents for any num­ber of sci­ence-relat­ed careers. Stu­dents may also choose the move on to grad­u­ate school after earn­ing their degrees.

Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty is an inno­v­a­tive, for­ward-think­ing school that pre­pares stu­dents for what­ev­er hap­pens next. Much of this inno­va­tion hap­pens in the class­room, so stu­dents get to expe­ri­ence the cut­ting edge of edu­ca­tion. This school is known for a lot of things, includ­ing excel­lence in the arts and sci­ences. It com­bines teach­ing and research, both of which are used to make a dif­fer­ence in the world.

What We Like: CMU has 39 Gold­wa­ter Scholars.

Carnegie Mel­lon Physics

15. Wesleyan University

Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty has one of the best Physics degree pro­grams for stu­dents who want to learn both inside and out­side of the class­room. Stu­dents learn an array of physics sub­jects, and they apply those sub­jects to things like research, the­sis oppor­tu­ni­ties, and more. Some under­grad­u­ate stu­dents even join grad stu­dents and teach­ers in their research. Physics learn­ers at Wes­leyan get plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to enrich their class­room learn­ing, help­ing them become con­fi­dent with hands-on work in the pro­fes­sion­al world.

Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty a lib­er­al arts school that turns learn­ers into lead­ers. It’s a small but ener­getic school that fos­ters rela­tion­ships and com­mu­ni­ty. Stu­dents get to know their pro­fes­sors, and the small class sizes make learn­ing a bet­ter expe­ri­ence for those who get over­whelmed in large lec­ture halls. Plus, the excel­lent aca­d­e­mics make Wes­leyan a good choice for stu­dents who are not afraid of a challenge.

What We Like: Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty is ranked #20 among US News and World Report’s top lib­er­al arts colleges.

Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

16. Washington University in St. Louis

Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis has an excel­lent Physics degree pro­gram. In this pro­gram, stu­dents devel­op the skills that they’ll need to suc­ceed in their sci­ence careers or in grad­u­ate school. This pro­gram acknowl­edges that physics stud­ies can be applied to a vari­ety of careers and sub­jects, so it pre­pares stu­dents for wher­ev­er their own paths may lead them. Stu­dents can also choose from a few con­cen­tra­tions to tai­lor their majors as they see fit. Because of this flex­i­bil­i­ty, WashU has one of the best physics degree pro­grams for stu­dents who want options.

Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in Saint Louis is ded­i­cat­ed to crit­i­cal think­ing, curios­i­ty, and work­ing as a com­mu­ni­ty to ben­e­fit the greater good. This school push­es stu­dents to think out­side the box as they pur­sue cre­ative solu­tions to the world’s prob­lems. At this diverse cam­pus, dif­fer­ent points of view are cel­e­brat­ed every day. Plus, many stu­dents take advan­tage of study abroad oppor­tu­ni­ties. This glob­al per­spec­tive of learn­ing pre­pares stu­dents to see the world in a new light.

What We Like: WashU had 220 inven­tion dis­clo­sures in 2018–2019.

Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis Physics

17. Brown University

Brown Uni­ver­si­ty’s Physics pro­gram is a learn­er-cen­tered envi­ron­ment. Stu­dents learn from their pro­fes­sors in the class­room and ben­e­fit from see­ing fac­ul­ty research. This pro­gram has small class sizes, so stu­dents get to know their teach­ers and the grad­u­ate stu­dents in the pro­gram. Stu­dents get just as many oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn from one anoth­er as they do to learn from their teach­ers. For those who want a small, chal­leng­ing, and focused pro­gram, Brown has one of the best Physics degree programs.

Brown Uni­ver­si­ty is a chal­leng­ing and impact­ful school. It fos­ters a sense of growth, curios­i­ty, and the desire to make a dif­fer­ence. This top research uni­ver­si­ty makes the most of study and inno­va­tion. Brown uses an open cur­ricu­lum, which means that instead of focus­ing on core class­es, stu­dents get to cus­tomize their own degree pro­grams. This way, Brown com­bines aca­d­e­m­ic rig­or with aca­d­e­m­ic freedom.

What We Like: Brown Uni­ver­si­ty has a 6:1 stu­dent to fac­ul­ty ratio, and 70% of class­es at Brown have few­er than 20 students.

Brown Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

18. Haverford College

Haver­ford Col­lege offers a Physics pro­gram and a com­bined Physics and Astro­physics pro­gram. Both are count­ed among the best Physics degree pro­grams in the US. These pro­grams rec­og­nize how impor­tant physics is to all of the rest of the sci­ences, and they get stu­dents ready for any num­ber of sci­ence-based careers and grad­u­ate stud­ies. These pro­grams are also designed with flex­i­bil­i­ty in mind so that stu­dents can com­bine their majors with minors or concentrations.

Haver­ford Col­lege is a stu­dent-focused insti­tu­tion. Stu­dents here are trust­ed to forge their own paths, take part in research and schol­ar­ship, and offer their input. In both research and study, Haver­ford Col­lege val­ues inno­va­tion and cre­ative think­ing. Stu­dents get lots of hands-on expe­ri­ence with their stud­ies. Instead of just read­ing about their pur­suits, they get to see how those stud­ies apply to the world out­side of the classroom.

What We Like: Near­ly half of Haver­ford stu­dents are peo­ple of color.

Haver­ford Col­lege Physics

19. Cornell University

Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty has one of the best Physics degree pro­grams. The pro­gram pro­vides strong aca­d­e­mics and first-class facil­i­ties to learn them in. Cor­nel­l’s Physics pro­gram has sparked many suc­cess­ful careers in sci­ence. Some Cor­nell grad­u­ates have moved on to work at Apple and sim­i­lar­ly respect­ed com­pa­nies. No mat­ter where they go after Cor­nell, Physics stu­dents here get an excel­lent start.

Cor­nell is a pri­vate, Ivy League uni­ver­si­ty with a ded­i­ca­tion to research. This fed­er­al land-grant uni­ver­si­ty main­tains its com­mit­ment to mak­ing its com­mu­ni­ty, state, and the sur­round­ing world a bet­ter place. Cor­nell achieves these goals through its inno­v­a­tive and wide-reach­ing research. In its stu­dents, Cor­nell fos­ters curios­i­ty and aca­d­e­m­ic pas­sions, push­ing those stu­dents toward greatness.

What We Like: Cor­nell is ranked #18 among nation­al uni­ver­si­ties, accord­ing to US News and World Report.

Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

20. Davidson College

David­son Col­lege offers one of the best Physics degree pro­grams, and it also offers some excel­lent minor options for those who want to add physics stud­ies to their degrees. David­son sees the study of Physics as a core part of a lib­er­al arts edu­ca­tion, giv­en the fact that physics is essen­tial to all of the oth­er sci­ences. These pro­grams take a broad approach to learn­ing, and they offer built-in flex­i­bil­i­ty so that stu­dents can cus­tomize their degrees or study abroad if they so choose.

“We don’t just pre­pare stu­dents for the world,” says David­son’s web­site, “we pre­pare them to make it bet­ter.” Stu­dents at David­son live by an hon­or code. This school val­ues kind­ness, “humane instincts” and sup­port from one peer to the next. David­son Col­lege is a lib­er­al arts school with sev­er­al major and minor options. David­son pro­vides an envi­ron­ment of com­mit­ted aca­d­e­m­ic study, cre­ative think­ing, and prepa­ra­tion to help and serve the sur­round­ing world.

What We Like: 23 Rhodes Schol­ars have come from David­son College.

David­son Col­lege Physics

21. Vassar College

The Physics pro­gram at Vas­sar Col­lege leads many stu­dents to grad­u­ate school. Oth­ers become teach­ers, writ­ers, researchers, and any num­ber of oth­er careers after grad­u­a­tion. For all of these stu­dents, though, Vas­sar pro­vides one of the best Physics degree pro­grams. The pro­gram cov­ers some of the most basic and most com­plex ques­tions about the phys­i­cal world. It helps stu­dents cul­ti­vate their crit­i­cal think­ing skills, ana­lyt­i­cal skills, and much more. Vas­sar Col­lege places a high val­ue on sci­en­tif­ic think­ing for all of its stu­dents, which makes it a top choice for those who want to make sci­ence a major part of their aca­d­e­m­ic lives.

Vas­sar Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the top lib­er­al arts col­leges in the Unit­ed States. Stu­dents learn to excel in think­ing, research­ing, learn­ing, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing their ideas. This school is both chal­leng­ing and high­ly selec­tive, which means that employ­ers cer­tain­ly notice when an appli­cant has grad­u­at­ed from Vas­sar. This stu­dious com­mu­ni­ty fos­ters inno­va­tion and deep thought.

What We Like: US News and World Report ranks Vas­sar #13 among US lib­er­al arts colleges.

Vas­sar Col­lege Physics

22. Northeastern University

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty’s Physics pro­gram is home to many smart and curi­ous stu­dents who want to know how the uni­verse works. North­east­ern rec­og­nizes how impor­tant physics is to the rest of the sci­ences, so it approach­es physics with the fas­ci­na­tion and deep study that it deserves. This pro­gram is one of the best physics degree pro­grams, part­ly because it offers a few options: Physics, Applied Physics, and Bio­med­ical Physics. This way, stu­dents can pur­sue a degree that will work best for their needs.

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty val­ues learn­ing through expe­ri­ences. In oth­er words, learn­ing goes far beyond the class­room. Stu­dents learn by doing, which pre­pares them for life after col­lege. Stu­dents often trav­el, research, and work with pro­fes­sion­als as they learn. This research-cen­tered school gives stu­dents the chance to par­tic­i­pate in some­thing big­ger than themselves.

What We Like: North­east­ern has a glob­al net­work of cam­pus­es, and it has pro­vid­ed expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties in 148 countries.

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

23. University of Chicago

The Physics pro­gram at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go focus­es on exper­i­ments and expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing. Thanks to this hands-on approach, many stu­dents con­sid­er this pro­gram one of the best physics degree pro­grams. In addi­tion to hands-on learn­ing, the pro­gram teach­es core physics knowl­edge that stu­dents will need if they choose to go to grad­u­ate school. Both the major and the minor in Physics leave room for flex­i­bil­i­ty, so stu­dents can make their degrees work for their needs.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go is a research insti­tu­tion that chal­lenges stu­dents to think out­side the box. With their cre­ativ­i­ty and crit­i­cal think­ing skills, stu­dents learn how to push aca­d­e­m­ic bound­aries and pur­sue new ideas out­side of the sta­tus quo. Research from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go has improved the med­ical field and oth­er sci­ence-cen­tered dis­ci­plines. Stu­dents often choose this school when they want to chal­lenge them­selves and make the most of their skills to improve lives.

What We Like: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go has won sev­er­al recog­ni­tions from the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Sciences.

Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Physics

24. Boston University

Boston Uni­ver­si­ty’s Physics pro­gram ranks among the best Physics degree pro­grams in the Unit­ed States. This pro­gram works for those who want to study physics after col­lege, but it also works for those who want to apply their physics knowl­edge to oth­er careers such as law or med­i­cine. The built-in flex­i­bil­i­ty appeals to many stu­dents. This pro­gram also offers all of the ben­e­fits of a large, urban school. How­ev­er, stu­dents get to know and work with their pro­fes­sors, so they don’t have to sac­ri­fice the per­son­al atten­tion that comes from small­er schools.

Boston Uni­ver­si­ty is a chal­leng­ing, high-ener­gy uni­ver­si­ty with a bustling com­mu­ni­ty of learn­ers. This diverse school has plen­ty of resources to offer learn­ers of all back­grounds. Boston is a research uni­ver­si­ty, which makes it appeal­ing to Physics stu­dents and oth­ers who want to study sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy. With its teach­ing and its research, Boston Uni­ver­si­ty seeks to serve its stu­dents and the com­mu­ni­ty beyond its walls.

What We Like: Fac­ul­ty mem­bers from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty have won many awards, both nation­al­ly and internationally.

Boston Uni­ver­si­ty Physics

25. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute is one of the world’s top resources for Physics. Many count this school’s Physics pro­gram as one of the best physics degree pro­grams avail­able for today’s stu­dents. Rens­se­laer offers sev­er­al degree path­ways for Physics stu­dents, includ­ing Physics, Applied Physics, and two accel­er­at­ed pro­grams that speed up the process from Bach­e­lor’s degree to grad­u­ate degree. In all of these options, stu­dents study deeply and par­tic­i­pate in inno­v­a­tive research.

RPI is a research uni­ver­si­ty, blend­ing sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy to make advance­ments for the world. This school helps stu­dents see how they can put their prob­lem-solv­ing skills to good use. RPI focus­es on chang­ing the world for the bet­ter, and stu­dents here get to see their place in that goal. RPI address­es the most press­ing issues that face the world today. Its aca­d­e­mics get stu­dents ready to see them­selves as prob­lem-solvers, too,.

What We Like: RPI is the first tech­no­log­i­cal research insti­tu­tion in the Unit­ed States.

Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute Physics

Is Physics a Good Major?

To answer the ques­tion, “Is physics a good major?”, con­sid­er your skills and inter­ests. If you enjoy sci­ence and math — even dif­fer­en­tial equa­tions and cal­cu­lus — then a major in physics is prob­a­bly a good choice for you.

Stu­dents may also ask, “Why major in physics?” This realm of sci­ence is an intrigu­ing one for sci­ence-mind­ed stu­dents, as it has so many real-world appli­ca­tions. Is physics a good major? It is if you want to stretch your prob­lem-solv­ing skills and explore oth­er areas of sci­ence, from oceanog­ra­phy to astronomy.

You may also be won­der­ing, “Why major in physics?” because you’re not sure what your employ­ment prospects will be with a physics degree in hand. For­tu­nate­ly, the huge uptick in STEM jobs like com­put­er sci­ence means you prob­a­bly won’t have dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing a job in this field. There are more oppor­tu­ni­ties to pay back your finan­cial aid than in the humanities!

What Can I Do with a Physics Degree?

We may not know many peo­ple who have a degree in physics, which leaves many of us won­der­ing what kinds of employ­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties there are with this cre­den­tial. So just what jobs can you get with a degree in physics? With your sci­ence and math skills, you will be qual­i­fied to work in a wide vari­ety of fields. 

Jobs with a degree in physics usu­al­ly involve oth­er sci­ences, such as seis­mol­o­gy, or engi­neer­ing. But one rea­son there are so many jobs with a degree in physics is that there are so many branch­es of it. For exam­ple, if you major in physics, you can be employed as a nuclear, par­ti­cle, or med­ical physi­cist (with a spe­cial­iza­tion in biophysics).

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, many jobs with a physics degree are in the tech­nol­o­gy field. Under­grad­u­ate physics pro­grams can pre­pare you for physics-relat­ed posi­tions like Web devel­op­er, sys­tems ana­lyst, soft­ware devel­op­er, and IT consultant.

Jobs with a degree in physics run the gamut in oth­er areas of sci­ence too. Peo­ple with this back­ground may also work in cli­ma­tol­ogy, mete­o­rol­o­gy, astron­o­my, and cos­mol­o­gy. They may also land employ­ment in aero­nau­tics, work­ing on the design and pro­duc­tion of air­craft. For instance, those with a physics degree may find employ­ment as nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment spe­cial­ists. Many peo­ple with this sci­ence degree go on to work in engi­neer­ing. Oth­er exam­ples of jobs with a physics degree are indus­tri­al engi­neer and mechan­i­cal engineer.

Oth­er life sci­ences offer plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for jobs with a physics degree. If you want to explore the realms of geol­o­gy, mechan­ics, ener­gy and chem­istry, you can use your physics knowl­edge in these relat­ed fields too.

A vari­ety of jobs that are physics degree-ori­ent­ed are research-based. These posi­tions can be found in the pub­lic sec­tor, such as in gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties. Pri­vate-sec­tor employ­ment is also avail­able at pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties and com­pa­nies involved in every­thing from telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions to the auto­mo­tive industry.

What jobs you can get with a physics degree also extends to edu­ca­tion. Peo­ple with a physics degree some­times go on to teach the sub­ject at the junior high or high school lev­els. With addi­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions, you may land a fac­ul­ty posi­tion at a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia, and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas are just a few exam­ples. Many physics majors also go on to physics grad­u­ate pro­grams to get their doc­tor­al or master’s degree.

What Kinds of Careers Can a Physics Major Have?

Just as there are a vari­ety of jobs in this field, there are also a num­ber of pos­si­ble path­ways to careers in physics. Some peo­ple find their call­ing through an intern­ship before or after grad­u­a­tion. Oth­ers have anoth­er degree or cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that pre­pares them for career advancement.

A career in physics doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly require an advanced degree in physics. Accord­ing to Trade schools, Col­leges, and Uni­ver­si­ties, 41% of physics majors enter the work­force imme­di­ate­ly after grad­u­a­tion. Oth­ers com­plete fur­ther study in a field such as med­i­cine, engi­neer­ing, or even law.

A career in physics will like­ly incor­po­rate aspects of IT, as this field is rapid­ly grow­ing. Careers with a physics degree can open the door to posi­tions that allow you to research and imple­ment new IT infra­struc­ture, and even work with oth­ers to devel­op it. Since study­ing physics sharp­ens your prob­lem-solv­ing and crit­i­cal think­ing abil­i­ties, your skills will be high­ly sought-after.

Anoth­er area to find reward­ing careers with a degree in physics is the mil­i­tary. Many physi­cists enter the mil­i­tary after com­plet­ing their bachelor’s degree. Of course, oth­ers com­plete their degree dur­ing the course of their ser­vice. Your role will vary depend­ing on your spe­cial­iza­tion, as you will like­ly need to par­tic­i­pate in addi­tion­al train­ing. How­ev­er, your degree can put you on track for pro­mo­tions and a vari­ety of reward­ing opportunities.

Some of the top cities for physics include Austin, Itha­ca, Bal­ti­more, Mary­land, Philadel­phia, Seat­tle, San­ta Bar­bara, Los Ange­les, Ann Arbor, and Pitts­burgh. North Car­oli­na, includ­ing Duke Uni­ver­si­ty in Durham, and Ari­zona also have numer­ous opportunities.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Online Accel­er­at­ed Com­bined Physics BS/MS

5 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Physics

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Physics