Best Undergraduate Physics Programs

Last Updated on June 3, 2022

Physics is the science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe. In the broadest sense, physics (from the Greek physikos) is concerned with all aspects of nature on both the macroscopic and submicroscopic levels.

Physics departments receive incredible funding and resources. Studying physics affords its pupils a myriad of choices from government research, medical applications, industrial uses, astronomy, and the study of the outer fringes of humanities knowledge. Physicists steer our most ambitious projects, from the Mars rovers to the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Best Undergraduate Physics Programs

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Many consider MIT to be the world’s leading science school. Located near other leading institutions, such as Harvard, MIT enjoys many collaborative research opportunities. Since the school’s founding in 1861, students have been exploring the field of physics through hands-on learning experiences. Offering some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S., MIT’s Department of Physics has seen four Nobel Prize recipients and seven Oersted Medal recipients since 1990.

The physics department prides itself on its outreach efforts to underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students through its Summer Research Program and Physics Bridge Program. Learners who participate in these initiatives emerge as stronger candidates for the school’s graduate physics programs. MIT’s physics department works with 16 affiliated labs and centers , such as:

  • The Haystack Radio Observatory
  • The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory
  • The Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
  • The Research Laboratory of Electronics
  • The Plasma Science and Fusion Center

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard’s Department of Physics has offered some of the best undergraduate physics programs since 1642.

Harvard also hosts the Jefferson Laboratory, the oldest physics lab in the U.S. Members of the department have received recognition for work in high-pressure physics, the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method, and the development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements. In total, the department can claims 10 Nobel Prize recipients.

Harvard’s campus hosts eight research centers:

  • The Center for Ultracold Atoms
  • The Center for Nanoscale Systems
  • The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  • The Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • The Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • The Minerals Research Science and Engineering Center
  • The Rowland Institute

In addition, the school’s faculty and students have developed research relationships with:

  • The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • CERN
  • The Cornell Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory
  • The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
  • The Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  • The Soudan Mines in Northern Minnesota
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology

3. University of Cambridge

Cambridge, England

By 1642, the study of theoretical and mathematical physics was available at Cambridge. In 1874, the Cavendish Laboratory opened, fostering the school’s first explorations of applied physics with some of the best physics programs available at that time. Past contributors to Cambridge’s Department of Physics include Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, and Niels Bohr, who studied the structure and function of the atom. The discovery of the neutron, the first splitting of the atom, and the discovery of antimatter are also attributable to Cambridge professors and students. A total of 20 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient are associated with the university. The Cambridge physics department has several ongoing research programs like the Centre for Scientific Computing Collaboration, the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, and the Centre for the Physics of Medicine.

4. Stanford University

Stanford, California

Stanford’s Physics Department was among the first to open after the university’s founding in 1891.

In 1934, Swiss physicist Felix Bloch began work at Stanford. He brought with him his theory of electron transport and ferromagnetism, the Bethe-Bloch equation, and his discovery of spin waves and Bloch walls. Recently, Stanford physicists played a key role in monitoring and analyzing the brightest gamma ray burst ever measured.

Offerings some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S., the Stanford holds a record for three consecutive Nobel Prize recipients: Professor Robert Laughlin in 1998, Professor Steven Chu in 1997, and Professor Douglas Osheroff in 1996. A total of 18 Nobel Prize recipients associate with the school. Research centers affiliated with Stanford’s department of physics include:

  • The Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials
  • L. Ginzton Laboratory
  • the Picosecond Free Electron Laser Center
  • The W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory
  • The Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • The PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science
  • The Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences
  • The Institute for Theoretical Physics

5. University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Berkeley’s Department of Physics operates within the College of Letters and Science. Approximately one-third of the Nobel Prize recipients associated with Berkeley come from the physics department; these recipients include nine full-time faculty members and seven alumni. The numerous achievements of past and present department members include the invention of the cyclotron, the invention of the bubble chamber, and the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Unlike many other physics Ph.D. programs, Berkeley does not require its doctoral students to participate in dissertation defenses; instead, these students must prove effective research skills to peers and faculty through other means. Available research topics cover the full range of theoretical and experimental physics , such as:

  • Astrophysics and cosmology
  • Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Condensed Matter
  • Elementary Particles and Fields
  • Fusion and Plasma
  • Low-temperature Physics

Berkeley’s Department of Physics maintains research partnerships with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Space Sciences Laboratory, and the Molecular Design Institute. Students have access to a total of eight science libraries on campus; these libraries include the Physics-Astronomy Library.

6. (tie) University of Oxford

Oxford, England

Delivering a variety of physics master’s programs, Oxford’s Department of Physics falls under the Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division. Oxford’s physics departments is one of the largest physics department in the world and features 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 recent of these was Anthony J. Leggett, who earned a Nobel Prize in 2003 for his pioneering work on superfluidity. Much of the history and archived material of Oxford’s physics department 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.

6. (tie) California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Unusually small for a world-class research institute, Caltech boasts a $2.5 billion endowment with plenty of funds for impressive laboratories and eminent professors in conjunction with small class sizes. This extends to the school’s physics department, housed within 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, and the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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

8. Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

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

Over a dozen faculty members and students associated with Princeton have been awarded the Nobel Prize. These esteemed individuals have been a part of or credited with the discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals, the discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations, and discoveries related to the structure of nucleons using electron scattering.

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

9. Imperial College London

London, England, UK

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

Nobel Prize winners, Fellows of the Royal Society, and many other prize-winning students and faculty call the department home. Today, it offers both undergraduate and graduate-level programs.

Graduate students can earn their master of science in one of eight areas, including optics and photonics, quantum fields and fundamental forces, plastic electronic materials, physics with nanophotonics, and quantum engineering. Full-time graduate students complete their coursework in a year; part-time students complete the same coursework over a two-year span. The school also offers 13 physics Ph.D. programs that explore areas such as astrophysics, condensed matter theory, high energy physics, and theoretical physics.

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

The department maintains an Industry Club to connect students to industries in their research areas. The club hosts an annual recruitment fair and a postgraduate research symposium to help connect students and employers while creating opportunities for research and development.

10. Columbia University

New York, New York

Delivering some of the best physics programs available, the graduate program Department of Physics at Columbia was formally created in 1892 and can claim association with 29 physics Nobel laureates. Michael Pupin, known for his work in X-rays and electromagnetism, served as a central figure in establishing the department. Additionally, the American Physical Society can trace 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 institutes 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.

11. University of California – Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

UCLA enjoys a reputation as one of the premier research schools in the California public system by offering some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S. The faculty members of the school’s Physics and Astronomy Department are particularly respected, especially for their role in the development of the X-ray free-electron laser and the advancement of high-end scientific computing. Research facilities on the UCLA campus include:

  • Plasma Science and Technology Institute
  • The California Nanosystems Institute
  • The Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering
  • The Institute for Digital Research and Education
  • The Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
  • The Center for Biological Physics

Student opportunities outside the classroom include, such as:

  • physics Education Research Journal Club
  • The Research Experience for Undergraduates program
  • The UCLA Science Lab Teaching Club
  • The Society of Physics Students

Instructional support is available to UCLA students includes facilities like the Science and Engineering Library, the Division of Physical Sciences Machine Shop, and Instrument Fabrication Facility.

12. University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

A.A. Michelson, one of the most notable American scientists of his time, began work at UChicago in 1893. Since then, members of the school’s Department of Physics have made several significant contributions to the field; the contributions include the application of mass spectrometers to determine nuclear constants, the discovery that the proton has an excited state, and the construction of the Fermi National Accelerator. A total of 29 recipients of the Nobel Prize in physics are connected with UChicago, which features a variety of physics master’s programs.

On-campus research centers and institutes at UChicago include:

  • The Enrico Fermi Institute
  • The James Franck Institute
  • The Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
  • The Computation Institute
  • The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
  • The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • The ASC Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes
  • The Institute for Molecular Engineering

13. () Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Cornell’s contributions to the field of physics have proved so important that a comprehensive history of the growth and achievements of the school’s Department of Physics was captured by the late Paul Hartman in his book titled The Cornell Physics Department. In particular, the department boasts acclaim for Nobel Prize-winning work in low-temperature physics and theoretical astrophysics.

Two major laboratories comprise most research in Ph.D. physics programs at Cornell: the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics and the Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics. The department also manages the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education. This facility stimulate interest in the sciences with its Xraise outreach program. Other affiliated institutions include:

  • The Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility
  • The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source
  • The Center for Materials Research
  • The Kavli Institute

14. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

There have been at least eight Nobel laureates associated with the Department of Physics at Yale, including Raymond Davis Jr., David Lee, and Ernest Lawrence. Yale has several on-campus research centers on campus that cater to physics students; these centers include:

  • The Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • The Wright Laboratory
  • The Center for Quantum Information Physics
  • The Center for Microelectronic Materials and Structures
  • The Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering
  • The Sackler Institute

Yale’s physics department hosts three outreach programs: the Yale Physics Olympics allows teams of high school students to compete in performing basic physics experiments, Girls’ Science Investigations provides hands-on experience to encourage young women in physics and the sciences, and the APS Conference caters to undergraduate women in physics.

15. ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland

Of the 21 Nobel laureates associated with ETH Zürich, eight have been students or faculty from the Department of Physics; these include Heinrich Rohrer, Felix Bloch, and Albert Einstein. Rudolf Clausius, famous for his formulation of the second law of thermodynamics, was the first chair of the institute’s physics department.

Four institutes manage research within the physics department at ETH Zürich: the Institute for Quantum Electronics, the Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Laboratory for Solid-State Physics, and the Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics. Featuring some of the best physics programs in the country, the department conducts research in a wide variety of areas within the field, like innovative technologies, computational sciences, and supercomputing.

Scientific facilities affiliated with the department include:

  • The European Organization for Nuclear Research
  • The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • The High-Energy Accelerator Research Organization
  • The Paul Scherrer Institute

16. The University of Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Kenjiro Yamakawa was the first Japanese professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Tokyo and in 1888 became the first member of the physics faculty to hold a doctorate. In 2002, the school’s professor Masatoshi Koshiba received the Nobel Prize in physics for using the Kamiokande detector to detect the first neutrinos from a supernova.

UTokyo’s physics department focuses primarily on astrophysics; the department is supported by the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. In addition, the school’s physics department also served as the birthplace of the study of biophysics in Japan.

The department traditionally celebrates the Newton Festival (which commemorates Isaac Newton) as an opportunity for professional and academic networking. More than 90% of undergraduate students in UTokyo’s physics department progress to the graduate school to undertake physics master’s programs or physics Ph.D. programs.

17. University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario

The Department of Physics at U of T has 115 years of academic history. Sir John C. McLennan and John Tuzo Wilson both helped to shape the department’s foundations. As part of the school’s physics graduate programs, the department conducts research in three main areas: planetary physics, quantum optics and condensed matter physics, and subatomic physics. The research group on condensed matter physics features several strong research associations, including relationships with:

  • Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
  • The Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group
  • The Center for Quantum Materials
  • The Highly Efficient Applications of Thermoelectronics Research program

Other organizations affiliated with U of T’s physics department include:

  • Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
  • The Institute for Aerospace Studies
  • The Institute for Optical Sciences
  • The Institute of Particle Physics
  • IsoTrace

In addition, U of T runs the Museum of Scientific Instruments, which is managed by volunteer graduate students and faculty members.

18. (tie) University of California – Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California

Dating back to only 1944, the Department of Physics at UCSB has earned an impressive amount of respect since its creation. The department’s current staff includes three Nobel Prize recipients and 16 members of the National Academies, and most its professors possess experience in theoretical or experimental physics and high-energy theoretical physics. Research organizations associated with UCSB’s physics department include:

  • The California NanoSystems Institute
  • The Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
  • The Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering
  • The Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
  • The WM Keck Observatory

For highly motivated and talented students, UCSB’s undergraduate physics program offers a joint degree with the university’s College of Creative Studies.

The university’s physics graduate programs include a Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis on astrophysics.

18. (tie) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

As early as 1870, Dean and Professor Stillman Robinson introduced the study of physics to the University of Illinois. Just two years later, the school’s Physics Laboratory started producing quality research as part of physics master’s programs and physics Ph.D. programs.

Since its inception, the university’s Department of Physics has been associated with 13 Nobel laureates, including John Bardeen, the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in physics. The various recipients have been recognized for their contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids, the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method, discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions, the discovery of the antiproton, and the determination of the magnetic moment of the electron.

Facilities on campus include:

  • Physics Machine Shop
  • The Physics Liquid Helium Facility
  • The Physics Interaction Room
  • The Virtual Physics and Astronomy Library

Departmental community outreach includes the physics van, a traveling science show for kids.

20. Technical University of Munich

Munich, GermanyTechnical University of Munich / Technische Universität München campus.

Technical University Munich (Technische Universität München) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics.

The Physics Department at TUM remains one of the largest and most well-regarded in Germany. Faculty members boast expertise in biophysics, nanotechnology, novel materials, cosmology, condensed matter physics, and nuclear physics. The department serves as home to several Nobel laureates, including Erwin Neher, Wolfgang Ketterle, Klaus von Klitzing, and Johann Deisenhofer. In addition to Nobel Prizes, scientists affiliated with the department received four Leibniz prizes and 17 grants from the European Research Council.

The department includes research groups that explore areas such as dark matter, the physics of synthetic biological systems, neutron scattering, functional materials, and biomedical physics. The school’s four research centers — including a center for nanotechnology and materials and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Research Neutron Source — attract scholars and scientists from across the globe.

The school’s proximity to Munich — the country’s main location for research and technology industries — creates a smooth pathway between graduation and employment for students in the physics master’s program. Students in TUM’s physics department also enjoy access to nearby amenities such as Europe’s fastest supercomputer, a tandem accelerator, and research institutes such as the Max Planck Institutes.

Best physics universities in the world

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Many consider MIT to be the world’s leading science school. Located near other leading institutions, such as Harvard, MIT enjoys many collaborative research opportunities. Since the school’s founding in 1861, students have been exploring the field of physics through hands-on learning experiences. Offering some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S., MIT’s Department of Physics has seen four Nobel Prize recipients and seven Oersted Medal recipients since 1990.

The physics department prides itself on its outreach efforts to underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students through its Summer Research Program and Physics Bridge Program. Learners who participate in these initiatives emerge as stronger candidates for the school’s graduate physics programs. MIT’s physics department works with 16 affiliated labs and centers , such as:

  • The Haystack Radio Observatory
  • The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory
  • The Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
  • The Research Laboratory of Electronics
  • The Plasma Science and Fusion Center

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard’s Department of Physics has offered some of the best undergraduate physics programs since 1642.

Harvard also hosts the Jefferson Laboratory, the oldest physics lab in the U.S. Members of the department have received recognition for work in high-pressure physics, the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method, and the development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements. In total, the department can claims 10 Nobel Prize recipients.

Harvard’s campus hosts eight research centers:

  • The Center for Ultracold Atoms
  • The Center for Nanoscale Systems
  • The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  • The Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • The Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • The Minerals Research Science and Engineering Center
  • The Rowland Institute

In addition, the school’s faculty and students have developed research relationships with:

  • The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • CERN
  • The Cornell Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory
  • The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
  • The Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  • The Soudan Mines in Northern Minnesota
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology

3. University of Cambridge

Cambridge, England

By 1642, the study of theoretical and mathematical physics was available at Cambridge. In 1874, the Cavendish Laboratory opened, fostering the school’s first explorations of applied physics with some of the best physics programs available at that time. Past contributors to Cambridge’s Department of Physics include Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, and Niels Bohr, who studied the structure and function of the atom.

The discovery of the neutron, the first splitting of the atom, and the discovery of antimatter are also attributable to Cambridge professors and students. A total of 20 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient are associated with the university. The Cambridge physics department has several ongoing research programs like the Centre for Scientific Computing Collaboration, the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, and the Centre for the Physics of Medicine.

Study Physics in Canada - Top Universities for Masters, MBA, PhD Degree  Programs

4. Stanford University

Stanford, California

Stanford’s Physics Department was among the first to open after the university’s founding in 1891.

In 1934, Swiss physicist Felix Bloch began work at Stanford. He brought with him his theory of electron transport and ferromagnetism, the Bethe-Bloch equation, and his discovery of spin waves and Bloch walls. Recently, Stanford physicists played a key role in monitoring and analyzing the brightest gamma ray burst ever measured.

Offerings some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S., the Stanford holds a record for three consecutive Nobel Prize recipients: Professor Robert Laughlin in 1998, Professor Steven Chu in 1997, and Professor Douglas Osheroff in 1996. A total of 18 Nobel Prize recipients associate with the school. Research centers affiliated with Stanford’s department of physics include:

  • The Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials
  • L. Ginzton Laboratory
  • the Picosecond Free Electron Laser Center
  • The W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory
  • The Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • The PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science
  • The Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences
  • The Institute for Theoretical Physics

5. University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Berkeley’s Department of Physics operates within the College of Letters and Science. Approximately one-third of the Nobel Prize recipients associated with Berkeley come from the physics department; these recipients include nine full-time faculty members and seven alumni. The numerous achievements of past and present department members include the invention of the cyclotron, the invention of the bubble chamber, and the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Unlike many other physics Ph.D. programs, Berkeley does not require its doctoral students to participate in dissertation defenses; instead, these students must prove effective research skills to peers and faculty through other means. Available research topics cover the full range of theoretical and experimental physics , such as:

  • Astrophysics and cosmology
  • Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Condensed Matter
  • Elementary Particles and Fields
  • Fusion and Plasma
  • Low-temperature Physics

Berkeley’s Department of Physics maintains research partnerships with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Space Sciences Laboratory, and the Molecular Design Institute. Students have access to a total of eight science libraries on campus; these libraries include the Physics-Astronomy Library.

6. (tie) University of Oxford

Oxford, England

Delivering a variety of physics master’s programs, Oxford’s Department of Physics falls under the Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division. Oxford’s physics departments is one of the largest physics department in the world and features 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 recent of these was Anthony J. Leggett, who earned a Nobel Prize in 2003 for his pioneering work on superfluidity. Much of the history and archived material of Oxford’s physics department 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.

6. California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Unusually small for a world-class research institute, Caltech boasts a $2.5 billion endowment with plenty of funds for impressive laboratories and eminent professors in conjunction with small class sizes. This extends to the school’s physics department, housed within 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, and the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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

8. Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

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

Over a dozen faculty members and students associated with Princeton have been awarded the Nobel Prize. These esteemed individuals have been a part of or credited with the discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals, the discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations, and discoveries related to the structure of nucleons using electron scattering.

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

9. Imperial College London

London, England, UK

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

Nobel Prize winners, Fellows of the Royal Society, and many other prize-winning students and faculty call the department home. Today, it offers both undergraduate and graduate-level programs.

Graduate students can earn their master of science in one of eight areas, including optics and photonics, quantum fields and fundamental forces, plastic electronic materials, physics with nanophotonics, and quantum engineering. Full-time graduate students complete their coursework in a year; part-time students complete the same coursework over a two-year span. The school also offers 13 physics Ph.D. programs that explore areas such as astrophysics, condensed matter theory, high energy physics, and theoretical physics.

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

The department maintains an Industry Club to connect students to industries in their research areas. The club hosts an annual recruitment fair and a postgraduate research symposium to help connect students and employers while creating opportunities for research and development.

See the Top 10 Universities in Canada | Best Global Universities | US News

10. Columbia University

New York, New York

Delivering some of the best physics programs available, the graduate program Department of Physics at Columbia was formally created in 1892 and can claim association with 29 physics Nobel laureates. Michael Pupin, known for his work in X-rays and electromagnetism, served as a central figure in establishing the department. Additionally, the American Physical Society can trace 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 institutes 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.

11. University of California – Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

UCLA enjoys a reputation as one of the premier research schools in the California public system by offering some of the best undergraduate physics programs in the U.S. The faculty members of the school’s Physics and Astronomy Department are particularly respected, especially for their role in the development of the X-ray free-electron laser and the advancement of high-end scientific computing. Research facilities on the UCLA campus include:

  • Plasma Science and Technology Institute
  • The California Nanosystems Institute
  • The Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering
  • The Institute for Digital Research and Education
  • The Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
  • The Center for Biological Physics

Student opportunities outside the classroom include, such as:

  • physics Education Research Journal Club
  • The Research Experience for Undergraduates program
  • The UCLA Science Lab Teaching Club
  • The Society of Physics Students

Instructional support is available to UCLA students includes facilities like the Science and Engineering Library, the Division of Physical Sciences Machine Shop, and Instrument Fabrication Facility.

12. University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

A.A. Michelson, one of the most notable American scientists of his time, began work at UChicago in 1893. Since then, members of the school’s Department of Physics have made several significant contributions to the field; the contributions include the application of mass spectrometers to determine nuclear constants, the discovery that the proton has an excited state, and the construction of the Fermi National Accelerator. A total of 29 recipients of the Nobel Prize in physics are connected with UChicago, which features a variety of physics master’s programs.

On-campus research centers and institutes at UChicago include:

  • The Enrico Fermi Institute
  • The James Franck Institute
  • The Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
  • The Computation Institute
  • The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
  • The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • The ASC Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes
  • The Institute for Molecular Engineering
Best Universities in Canada for Physics - Study in Canada

13. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Cornell’s contributions to the field of physics have proved so important that a comprehensive history of the growth and achievements of the school’s Department of Physics was captured by the late Paul Hartman in his book titled The Cornell Physics Department. In particular, the department boasts acclaim for Nobel Prize-winning work in low-temperature physics and theoretical astrophysics.

Two major laboratories comprise most research in Ph.D. physics programs at Cornell: the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics and the Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics. The department also manages the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education. This facility stimulate interest in the sciences with its Xraise outreach program. Other affiliated institutions include:

  • The Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility
  • The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source
  • The Center for Materials Research
  • The Kavli Institute

14. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

There have been at least eight Nobel laureates associated with the Department of Physics at Yale, including Raymond Davis Jr., David Lee, and Ernest Lawrence. Yale has several on-campus research centers on campus that cater to physics students; these centers include:

  • The Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • The Wright Laboratory
  • The Center for Quantum Information Physics
  • The Center for Microelectronic Materials and Structures
  • The Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering
  • The Sackler Institute

Yale’s physics department hosts three outreach programs: the Yale Physics Olympics allows teams of high school students to compete in performing basic physics experiments, Girls’ Science Investigations provides hands-on experience to encourage young women in physics and the sciences, and the APS Conference caters to undergraduate women in physics.

15. ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland

Of the 21 Nobel laureates associated with ETH Zürich, eight have been students or faculty from the Department of Physics; these include Heinrich Rohrer, Felix Bloch, and Albert Einstein. Rudolf Clausius, famous for his formulation of the second law of thermodynamics, was the first chair of the institute’s physics department.

Four institutes manage research within the physics department at ETH Zürich: the Institute for Quantum Electronics, the Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Laboratory for Solid-State Physics, and the Institute for Particle Physics and Astrophysics. Featuring some of the best physics programs in the country, the department conducts research in a wide variety of areas within the field, like innovative technologies, computational sciences, and supercomputing.

Scientific facilities affiliated with the department include:

  • The European Organization for Nuclear Research
  • The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • The High-Energy Accelerator Research Organization
  • The Paul Scherrer Institute
Time May Not Exist at All, According to Physics - alpes-holidays

16. The University of Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Kenjiro Yamakawa was the first Japanese professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Tokyo and in 1888 became the first member of the physics faculty to hold a doctorate. In 2002, the school’s professor Masatoshi Koshiba received the Nobel Prize in physics for using the Kamiokande detector to detect the first neutrinos from a supernova.

UTokyo’s physics department focuses primarily on astrophysics; the department is supported by the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. In addition, the school’s physics department also served as the birthplace of the study of biophysics in Japan.

The department traditionally celebrates the Newton Festival (which commemorates Isaac Newton) as an opportunity for professional and academic networking. More than 90% of undergraduate students in UTokyo’s physics department progress to the graduate school to undertake physics master’s programs or physics Ph.D. programs.

17. University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario

The Department of Physics at U of T has 115 years of academic history. Sir John C. McLennan and John Tuzo Wilson both helped to shape the department’s foundations. As part of the school’s physics graduate programs, the department conducts research in three main areas: planetary physics, quantum optics and condensed matter physics, and subatomic physics. The research group on condensed matter physics features several strong research associations, including relationships with:

  • Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
  • The Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group
  • The Center for Quantum Materials
  • The Highly Efficient Applications of Thermoelectronics Research program

Other organizations affiliated with U of T’s physics department include:

  • Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
  • The Institute for Aerospace Studies
  • The Institute for Optical Sciences
  • The Institute of Particle Physics
  • IsoTrace

In addition, U of T runs the Museum of Scientific Instruments, which is managed by volunteer graduate students and faculty members.

18. University of California – Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California

Dating back to only 1944, the Department of Physics at UCSB has earned an impressive amount of respect since its creation. The department’s current staff includes three Nobel Prize recipients and 16 members of the National Academies, and most its professors possess experience in theoretical or experimental physics and high-energy theoretical physics. Research organizations associated with UCSB’s physics department include:

  • The California NanoSystems Institute
  • The Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
  • The Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering
  • The Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
  • The WM Keck Observatory

For highly motivated and talented students, UCSB’s undergraduate physics program offers a joint degree with the university’s College of Creative Studies.

The university’s physics graduate programs include a Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis on astrophysics.

SDS Colleges in Ontario | Study Abroad

19. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

As early as 1870, Dean and Professor Stillman Robinson introduced the study of physics to the University of Illinois. Just two years later, the school’s Physics Laboratory started producing quality research as part of physics master’s programs and physics Ph.D. programs.

Since its inception, the university’s Department of Physics has been associated with 13 Nobel laureates, including John Bardeen, the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in physics. The various recipients have been recognized for their contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids, the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method, discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions, the discovery of the antiproton, and the determination of the magnetic moment of the electron.

Facilities on campus include:

  • Physics Machine Shop
  • The Physics Liquid Helium Facility
  • The Physics Interaction Room
  • The Virtual Physics and Astronomy Library

Departmental community outreach includes the physics van, a traveling science show for kids.

20. Technical University of Munich

Munich, Germany

Technical University Munich (Technische Universität München) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics.

The Physics Department at TUM remains one of the largest and most well-regarded in Germany. Faculty members boast expertise in biophysics, nanotechnology, novel materials, cosmology, condensed matter physics, and nuclear physics. The department serves as home to several Nobel laureates, including Erwin Neher, Wolfgang Ketterle, Klaus von Klitzing, and Johann Deisenhofer. In addition to Nobel Prizes, scientists affiliated with the department received four Leibniz prizes and 17 grants from the European Research Council.

The department includes research groups that explore areas such as dark matter, the physics of synthetic biological systems, neutron scattering, functional materials, and biomedical physics. The school’s four research centers — including a center for nanotechnology and materials and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Research Neutron Source — attract scholars and scientists from across the globe.

The school’s proximity to Munich — the country’s main location for research and technology industries — creates a smooth pathway between graduation and employment for students in the physics master’s program. Students in TUM’s physics department also enjoy access to nearby amenities such as Europe’s fastest supercomputer, a tandem accelerator, and research institutes such as the Max Planck Institutes.

Best Physics Universities In Canada

University of Toronto 

The University of Toronto is committed to building enormous accomplishments and continuously improving its research and education quality. As one of the most prominent universities in Canada, U of T places the rights of human beings on the top of the hill, by creating a comfortable place for freedom of speech, academic freedom, along with freedom of research.

As an international student, you will be amazed by the world’s top faculties of Toronto, especially the Faculty of Arts and Science. The Department of Physics in the Faculty of Arts & Science is housed in the McLennan Physical Laboratories at UTSG in downtown Toronto, and all undergraduate programs are provided on the St. George campus.

The tri-campus Graduate Department, which comprises professors from all three campuses, offers the Physics graduate program on a tri-campus basis. Graduate professors at UTM belong to the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences (CPS), whereas graduate faculty at UTSC belong to the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences (DPES).

The department in name in collaboration with the Research Faculty conducts research in a wide array of related fields. Studying physics at the University of Toronto channels you to Canada’s most active groups in elementary particle physics and relativity.

McGill University

McGill University is all about the advancement of learning as well as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, moving at a fast pace towards the evolution of research methodologies. Apart from the merits of the educational aspect of McGill University, it is also known for attracting some of the most exceptional students from all over the world.

Related to this, McGill University offers an ideal opportunity to the prospective international student wishing to study here, by providing the McGill Scholarships, which are two types: One-year scholarship and Major scholarship. 

The faculty of Science is the place from where the Department of Physics stems. The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee, which is made up of students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty members, is one of the most admirable aspects of the Physics department. Its goal is to promote a safe and inclusive working environment.

The Honours and Major programs are the two primary undergraduate programs in Physics at McGill. The Honours program is extremely specialized, and the courses are quite difficult. This program is designed for students who want to study physics in-depth in preparation for graduate school and a career in academia or industry. 

The Best Physics Schools In Canada 2021 - University Magazine

University of Waterloo 

The University of Waterloo is highly renowned for its academic programs, its excellence in research and teaching, coupled with endless opportunities in co-operative education. Waterloo, which is at the vanguard of innovation, promotes a culture of inquiry, discovery, and global responsibility. Providing exceptional physics courses, Waterloo institution is one of the best decisions an international student can make.

The program of physics strongly encourages students to make deep and profound inquiries about the galaxy, light, shadow and other curiosity-driven research and discovery questions. With a wide range of programs, the University of Waterloo is influencing the future by addressing global issues that will have a long-term influence on the globe.

The Faculty of Science at University of Waterloo offers 21 programs, each of them with a number of majors. By giving the chance to pick and explore from more than four physics related programs, the Faculty of Science makes distinguished endeavours in the field of physics.

Life Physics, Physical Sciences, Physics, Physics and Astronomy are the top physics programs found at this faculty which also have a beneficial influence on the research of natural laws and processes of non-living matter. Life Physics, which is run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is one of Canada’s largest and most creative physics programs. This adaptable and multidisciplinary program is founded on a strong foundation in physics, chemistry, and biology.

University of Alberta

The University of Alberta discovers, disseminates, and uses new information in a lively and supportive learning environment via teaching and learning, research and creative activity, community participation, and collaborations. Since this higher education institution gives a national and international voice to invention, deciding to study physics will have you reach outstanding achievements in discovery.

As the fifth top Canadian university and one of the most valued institutions in international rank, Alberta caters its students not only with outstanding study programs but also with real work experience during their studies. 

The University of Alberta’s Department of Physics covers a wide range of study fields, from astronomical-scale investigations of the Universe to hypotheses concerning infinitesimally tiny subatomic particles. Some of the most highlighted research areas found in the Physics department are Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biophysics, Computational Physics, Geophysics, Plasma Physics, as well as Space Physics.

Because various areas of study must collaborate to solve the mysteries of our planet and beyond, these research centers are frequently disciplinary in character. Part of the Faculty of Science’s mission is to build a portfolio of teaching and research areas in which the faculty is or will be regarded as a global leader.

Laval University 

Laval University is a well known institution in the global scale that delivers lectures in French. With its excellence in education and research, this higher education institution has striked many other Canadian universities. By providing physics studies, Laval University teaches students to be active and creative in order to become model scientists and make a significant effect on the direction that society takes.

This motive is driven by a deep-seated culture of sustainable development. For 350 years, Université Laval has proven its dedication to addressing society’s most pressing issues by teaching tomorrow’s leaders how to attain their goals.

At the Faculty of Science and Engineering, international students can find the program of Engineering physics which is multidisciplinary in nature. The Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics will enable you to understand the fundamental concepts of physics and mathematics while also mastering the essential concepts of engineering.

The biggest advantage of this program is the experimental learning — most of the classes will take place in brand new laboratories which are equipped with the most recent technologies. Interested in puro physics studies, the Physical program will leave you with a rich choice of three training levels: Baccalaureate, Master’s with thesis and Doctorate. 

Career Scope after B.Sc Physics - Higher Education, Job opportunities |  CollegeDekho

University of British Columbia

Being one of the oldest universities in the British Columbia province, this university offers some of the most competitive programs, counting physics as the first appealing option to international students. The university has two campuses: one in Vancouver and one in Kelowna.

The main campus in Vancouver is close to many beaches and has spectacular views of the North Shore mountains. This outstanding campus hosts the Department of Physics and Astronomy, in which international students can immerse in student life and at the same time get to enjoy the road to the destination of being a physician.

At the Department of Physics and Astronomy, every student and staff member is committed to take turns that will create better possibilities for research. Undergraduate programs reflect the faculty’s breadth, including programs such as Astronomy, Honours Biophysics, Engineering Physics, Majors Physics, and Honours Physics, as well as several options for combined degrees with other departments and programs.

On the other hand, the graduate program is devoted to experimental workings and theories in research, with a clear focus on Cosmology, Gravity, Medical Physic, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, to mention a few. Laboratories intended for physical classes are found in the historic Hebb Building and Theatre and have all the needed facilities to profoundly study aspects of physics. 

McMaster University 

As the main aim of McMaster University is to make exceptional discoveries, distribute knowledge and make a positive impact on the lives of all the people, taking physics classes here will be highly rewarding. Faculty, staff, and students are working together to develop creative answers to challenging issues by combining pioneering research with a dedication to cooperation. Being part of the Faculty of Science whose outstanding Department of Physics and Astronomy gives endless opportunities for groundbreaking research, will sculpt you into a universal physician.   

McMaster University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy is dedicated to researching new areas of study. Together with faculty members, international students will easily join the quickly-developing research areas such as biophysics, polymer physics and quantum computing, coupled with studies of the most recent advancements in astrophysics, cosmology, condensed-matter and nuclear research.

There are six undergraduate programs that the Physics and Astronomy department offers to interested students in physics, counting the Chemical & Physical Sciences which is a three year program, and then with Honours Astrophysics that takes one additional year to finish. The rest of the degrees are also four year programs.

Best universities in Canada 2022 - University Rankings

Dalhousie University 

Since its foundation in 1818, Dalhousie has been delivering quality education and cutting edge research opportunities in a variety of fields. More than ever before, the outcomes of research conducted at university labs and linked institutions are critical to human survival.

Being a physics student of the Dalhousie’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science means that you will work closely with professors who are successful in their own research careers. They encourage students to achieve academic success and develop wide-ranging expertise that can be expressed both inside and outside the classroom.

The Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science spans its physics programs in a variety of sub-disciplines. As for the undergraduate program, students of majors and honours can opt to complete one of nine physics streams. With hundreds of millions of dollars in research money brought in by faculty members each year, you’ll be able to apply for undergraduate student research employment.

You could also think about pursuing the Diploma in Meteorology (DMet), which can be done as part of a four-year BSc in Physics or after completing a bachelor’s degree in any scientific, math, or other quantitative-based discipline. Graduate studies at the M.Sc. (Master of Science) and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) levels are thesis-based instruction.

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