10 Best Physics Schools in The World

September 26, 2021

Physics departments get magnificent funding and resources. Studying physics provides its pupils with countless choices from government research, technology, medical devotion, industrial uses, astronomy, and the study of the outer periphery of humanities knowledge. Physicists maneuver most ambitious projects, from the Mars rovers to the Hubble Space Telescope. Governments will expend massive resources to win prestige through success in physics, as America’s moon landings, the European CERN hadron collider, and the growing interest in a mission to Mars show.

You can become a physicist in any of the different fields of physics:

  • Atomic, molecular, and optical physics
  • Geophysics
  • Cryogenics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Biophysics
  • Nuclear physics

Using machine learning and search algorithms to identify the academic influence on the web, AcademicInfluence.com avoids the human bias that infects most academic rankings.

The rankings by AcademicInfluence.com are established on the influential faculty and alum publications, citations, and references associated with a school, degree programs, departments, or discipline. This ranking by influence approach elevates a school or degree program based on which members of its academic community are objectively influential in a given discipline.

By weighing Academic Influence’s rankings, we have created the top 10 physics schools of the world.

10 Best Physics School of The World

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

‍From its inception in 1865, the Department of Physics at MIT has ensured that education is a good balance of the theoretical and practical. Undergraduate degree program applicants should have completed a year of physics, chemistry, and biology in high school and math through calculus. Additionally, two years of a foreign language and history or social sciences and four years of English are essential. The acceptance rate at MIT is tough at 6.6%.

Students begin with a solid foundation of understanding in fundamental physics for graduate study in physics and other affiliated fields in the undergraduate degree program. Students can even opt for professional work in astrophysics, biophysics, engineering, and applied physics, geophysics, management, law, or medicine. They can choose to pursue their degree with the focused option if they intend on a career in physics. The flexible choice is for students who are aiming for an unconventional career in physics. Both options lead to the Bachelor of Science in Physics. Students are encouraged to participate in research to enhance their understanding of the subject.

MIT offers need-based financial aid to all applicants without discrimination. Students can also opt for short-term work to meet the expenses they are expected to pay for. Loans that are taken can be repaid on long-term credit. 

Notable alumni are Eric Cornel, Robert Laughlin, and Henry Kendall.

2. Stanford University, USA

‍Stanford opened in 1891, with the Department of Physics being one of the first five programs offered. Admission requirements for the undergraduate course include SAT (1465 on a scale of 1600), ACT 33 out of 36, and GPA of 3.95 on a scale of 4. This means only the best students can hope to get accepted, especially when considering their acceptance rate is exacting at 4.8%.

The university offers varied introductory programs to students from different fields but shares a keen interest in physics to understand their core interest/skill in physics. The options are:

  • The Teen series is for the humanities or social science student
  • The "20" series is an algebra-based sequence for life science and pre-medical students
  • The "40" series is a calculus-based sequence for most physical science and engineering students
  • The “60” series is for students with significant preparation in physics and calculus

Stanford has limited scholarships for international students. It has limited financial aid for international students, and it is offered only if the student requests it at the time of admission.  

Notable alumni are Herbert Hoover, Doris Fisher, and Mitt Romney.

3. The University of California, Berkeley, USA

‍You must apply to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as the Physics Department does not admit students directly. As an undergraduate in Physics at Berkley, you will learn physics basics through introductory course work and, after that, pursue research with the best global research groups. Over half of the students who come here to study physics pursue higher studies in physics and affiliated subjects in recent years. Others work in high-tech industries or as management consultants, and some join a medical school. The University strives to inculcate in its majors strong mathematical and analytical skills, good laboratory skills, and a well-grounded understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the universe.

The University has an acceptance rate of 14.9% but getting accepted is still not easy.

International students applying at Berkeley must show proof of funding for the first year with further access to funding the whole program. However, there is ample need-based financial aid available for US citizens.

Notable alumni are Steven Chu, Saul Perlmutter, and John C. Mather.

4. Harvard University, USA

‍The best thing about studying Physics at Harvard is you have the freedom to go to graduate school in physics or a closely related field. So even while pursuing a concentration in physics, you can pursue Physics-Mathematics, Physics-Astronomy, and Physics-History of Science, plus the special Chemistry and Physics concentration. The staff is passionate about physics and teaching and constantly devises new course material. Undergraduates also get the opportunity to research through an independent research course.

The acceptance rate is tough at 9.6% and. 

Need-based financial aid ensures that the best students study at Harvard even if they are unable to pay.

Notable alumni are Nicholaas Bloenmbergen, Carlo Rubbia, and Roy J. Glauber.

5. University of Cambridge, UK

‍The undergraduate Physics program includes Physical and Biological Sciences but is separate from Medicine, Engineering, and Mathematics. You can choose a three or four-year course for a first degree with a specialization in physics. The three-year course is devised for those who love physics but aren’t intent on becoming physicists, and the four-year course is for students who want to get into academic or industrial research. 

You cannot apply directly to the Department of Physics – you have to use either to a college or an open application via the Cambridge Admissions Office. Staff from the department will be part of the screening team. Besides going through the routine admission requirements, you will also need to complete a Supplementary Application Questionnaire, submit a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application and a Written Assessment, and attend an Interview.

While there is a wide range of funding options at the University, you must be eligible to apply.

Notable alumni are Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing, and Oliver Cromwell.

6. The University of Oxford, Oxford, England

Delivering a number of physics master’s programs, Oxford’s Department of Physics falls under the Physical, Mathematical, and Life Sciences Division.

Oxford’s physics departments are one of the largest physics department in the world and feature more than 100 research groups and facilities, such as:

  • The Accretion and Jet Physics Group
  • The Beecroft Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • The Climate Dynamics Group
  • The Earth Observation Data Group
  • The MARS Project
  • The Oxford Centre for High Energy Density Science
  • There have been five Nobel laureates who studied or worked at Oxford.

The most current of these was Anthony J. Leggett, who earned a Nobel Prize in 2003 for his groundbreaking work on superfluidity. Much of Oxford’s physics department’s history and archived material can be found in the school’s Museum of the History of Science. The department has also donated material to the Science Museum in London.

7. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

Surprisingly small for a world-class research institute, Caltech boasts a $2.5 billion trust with an abundance of funds for impressive laboratories and eminent professors in association with small class sizes. 

This stretches to the school’s physics department, housed inside Caltech’s Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. The department’s research centers and institutes include 

  • The Institute for Quantum Information and Matter,
  • The Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics, 
  • The Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Committed to both undergraduate and graduate programs, topics explored by Caltech’s department of physics include observational astrophysics, experimental elementary particle physics, gravitational wave astronomy, and condensed-matter physics. Students and faculty associated with the school’s physics graduate programs often work together with professors and learners centering on other sciences, including chemistry,  planetary science, and engineering.

8. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

The wonderful history of the Department of Physics at Princeton goes back to 1832 with the arrival of Professor Joseph Henry, an expert in natural philosophy. By the 1930s, the program distended into researching nuclear physics under the management of Milton G. White, at which point the university created a cyclotron in its Palmer Laboratory.

A number of faculty members and students associated with Princeton have been awarded the Nobel Prize. These acclaimed individuals have been a part of or credited with discovering the diffraction of electrons by crystals and discoveries related to nucleons’ structure using electron scattering.

Princeton has a medical physics program among its many offerings. It also preserves research relationships with various other school departments, including mathematics, astrophysical sciences, and molecular biology. The school also works with the Institute for Advanced Study, PPPL, PRISM, and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. 

9. Imperial College London, London, England, UK

The Department of Physics at Imperial College London goes back more than a century.

Nobel Prize winners, Fellows of the Royal Society, and many other award-winning students and faculty call Imperial College their home. Currently, it offers both undergraduate and graduate-level programs.

Graduate students can earn their master of science in one of eight areas, including

  • quantum fields and fundamental forces,
  • optics and photonics, 
  • plastic electronic materials, 
  • physics with nanophotonics, and
  • quantum engineering. 

It takes one year for full-time graduate students to complete their coursework; part-time students take two years to complete the same coursework. The school also offers 13 physics Ph.D. programs that explore areas such as high-energy physics, astrophysics, condensed matter theory, and theoretical physics.

The physics department is one of the largest in the United Kingdom, lately grouped its primary research areas into four major themes: fundamental physics; photon science; condensed matter physics; and space, plasma, and climate. 

10. Columbia University, New York, New York

The Department of Physics at Columbia was officially rm created in 1892 and can claim association with 29 physics Nobel laureates. Michael Pupin, known for his work in X-rays and electromagnetism, functioning as a central figure in establishing the department. Also, the American Physical Society can discover its roots back to a meeting at Columbia in 1899.

On-campus facilities include:

  • Columbia Astrophysics Lab
  • The Microelectronics Sciences Laboratories
  • Nevis Laboratories
  • The CEPCR Cleanroom

Among the research centers and on-campus are;

  • The Center for Electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures; 
  • The Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics and; 
  • The Environmental Molecular Science Institute. 

Other departments associated with Columbia’s physics department include; 

  • The Astronomy Department, 
  • The Electrical Engineering Department, and
  • The Mathematics Department. 

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