Which universities have great physics graduate programs?
I'm looking to get my PhD in physics, optical engineering, particle physics, or a related field. Since it's the end of my 3rd year as an undergraduate, it's time for me to start thinking about applications!
--general research influence (NOT THE SAME AS PRESTIGE!!),
--research area strengths (again, not the same as prestige!),
--location (wanna stay in the state? wanna stay in the country??),
--area/surrounding area (what's the city/town like? what's nearby? how big is the population? average age? things to do?),
--size of department (small, medium, large all have pros and cons),
--department culture (as graduate students interact within the dept. much more than most undergrads, this is super important imo),
--professor's leadership/mentorship style,
--longevity of research topic,
and lots of others.
My suggestion for a first step is to speak with professors closest to you about your wants, needs, abilities, and the types of schools you should be aiming for. Your professors will generally know better than a list because lists measure and weigh things many students probably don't care about. So you could be applying to the Ivy League or Stanford while not knowing New Mexico State University has a great program.
Once you speak to your profs and ponder for yourself your priorities, where you should apply will become much clearer to you. Applying to all 10 of the top 10 schools from US News is a huge mistake. So is applying to the bottom 10. Think deeply about what you want. :)
2. Stanford University
3. Cal Tech
4. Harvard University
5. Princeton University
I'm sure your college physics professors can also point you in the right direction. I assume you will ask some of them to write you a letter of recommendation for graduate school.
Jackson recommends the following next steps:
I hope this helps your thought process.
All the best!
There's sites like findaphd.com that list research projects (although that one is mainly UK specific), try browsing through topics in fields you think you might enjoy and see if any particular projects catch your eye.
Joseph recommends the following next steps: