2023 Best Physics Schools

222 Colleges in the United States
13,674 Physics Degrees Awarded
$42,960 Avg Early-Career Salary
A degree in physics is more popular than many other degrees. In fact, it ranks #68 out of 395 on popularity of all such degrees in the nation. As a result, there are many college that offer the degree, making your choice of school a hard one.

For its 2023 ranking, College Factual looked at 222 schools in the United States to determine which ones were the best for physics students pursuing a degree. When you put them all together, these colleges and universities awarded 13,674 degrees in physics during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Jump to one of the following sections: * Degree-Level Rankings

Choosing a Great Physics School

Best Physics Schools Your choice of physics school matters, so we have put together these rankings to help you make your decision. For our Best Overall Physics School rankings, we roll up the results of our degree-level rankings, weighted by the number of degrees awarded at that level.

You may want to choose one of the degree levels below to find the schools of most interest to you.

Physics Rankings by Degree Level

The physics school you choose to invest your time and money in matters. To help you make the decision that is right for you, we've developed a number of major-specific rankings, including this list of the Best Physics Schools. If you'd like to restrict your choices to just one part of the country, you can filter this list by location.

In addition to our rankings, you can take two colleges and compare them based on the criteria that matters most to you in our unique tool, College Combat. Test it out when you get a chance! You may also want to bookmark the link and share it with others who are trying to make the college decision.

If you want to learn more about how we derive our rankings, see College Factual's Methodology.

Best Schools for Physics in the United States

The schools below may not offer all types of physics degrees so you may want to filter by degree level first. However, they are great for the degree levels they do offer. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.

25 Top Schools in Physics

#1

Stanford University

Stanford, CA
Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
8th Most Popular In CA
85 Physics Degrees Awarded

Every student who is interested in physics needs to take a look at Stanford University. Stanford is a large private not-for-profit university located in the suburb of Stanford. A Best Colleges rank of #2 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Stanford is a great university overall.

There were roughly 85 physics students who graduated with this degree at Stanford in the most recent year we have data available.

More information about a degree in physics from Stanford University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
102 Physics Degrees Awarded

Every student pursuing a degree in physics needs to look into University of Chicago. Located in the large city of Chicago, UChicago is a private not-for-profit university with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #7 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means UChicago is a great university overall.

There were approximately 102 physics students who graduated with this degree at UChicago in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the physics major at University of Chicago get $9,618 more than the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Chicago

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
3rd Most Popular In IL
47 Physics Degrees Awarded

Every student pursuing a degree in physics has to check out Northwestern University. Northwestern is a fairly large private not-for-profit university located in the city of Evanston. A Best Colleges rank of #5 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Northwestern is a great university overall.

There were about 47 physics students who graduated with this degree at Northwestern in the most recent year we have data available.

More information about a degree in physics from Northwestern University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
2nd Most Popular In MD
60 Physics Degrees Awarded

Johns Hopkins University is a good decision for students pursuing a degree in physics. Johns Hopkins is a fairly large private not-for-profit university located in the city of Baltimore. A Best Colleges rank of #9 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Johns Hopkins is a great university overall.

There were about 60 physics students who graduated with this degree at Johns Hopkins in the most recent year we have data available.

More information about a degree in physics from Johns Hopkins University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
118 Physics Degrees Awarded

U-M is a very large public university located in the city of Ann Arbor. A Best Colleges rank of #25 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means U-M is a great university overall.

There were roughly 118 physics students who graduated with this degree at U-M in the most recent year we have data available. After graduation, physics degree recipients generally make an average of $42,728 at the beginning of their careers.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

#6

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY
Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
96 Physics Degrees Awarded

Cornell is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the city of Ithaca. A Best Colleges rank of #13 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means Cornell is a great university overall.

There were roughly 96 physics students who graduated with this degree at Cornell in the most recent data year. After graduation, physics degree recipients generally earn about $38,630 at the beginning of their careers.

More information about a degree in physics from Cornell University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
144 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Madison, UW - Madison is a public university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #33 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means UW - Madison is a great university overall.

There were roughly 144 physics students who graduated with this degree at UW - Madison in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the physics major at University of Wisconsin - Madison earn $2,956 above the typical college grad in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Wisconsin - Madison

#8

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY
Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
118 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the medium-sized city of Rochester, University of Rochester is a private not-for-profit university with a large student population. This university ranks 7th out of 143 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

There were roughly 118 physics students who graduated with this degree at University of Rochester in the most recent data year. Those physics students who get their degree from University of Rochester make $46,817 more than the average physics graduate.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Rochester

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
94 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the large city of Minneapolis, UMN Twin Cities is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 1st out of 55 schools for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

There were roughly 94 physics students who graduated with this degree at UMN Twin Cities in the most recent data year. Physics degree recipients from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities get an earnings boost of about $12,367 above the typical earnings of physics graduates.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
162 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Tucson, University of Arizona is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 3rd out of 26 schools for overall quality in the state of Arizona.

There were approximately 162 physics students who graduated with this degree at University of Arizona in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the physics program at University of Arizona get $51,051 above the average college grad with the same degree shortly after graduation.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Arizona

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
197 Physics Degrees Awarded

UC Berkeley is a fairly large public university located in the medium-sized city of Berkeley. A Best Colleges rank of #17 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means UC Berkeley is a great university overall.

There were approximately 197 physics students who graduated with this degree at UC Berkeley in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the physics program at University of California - Berkeley earn $16,742 more than the average college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in physics from University of California - Berkeley

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
199 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the suburb of Santa Barbara, UCSB is a public university with a fairly large student population. This university ranks 10th out of 170 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

There were roughly 199 physics students who graduated with this degree at UCSB in the most recent year we have data available. Physics degree recipients from University of California - Santa Barbara receive an earnings boost of about $6,903 above the typical income of physics graduates.

More information about a degree in physics from University of California - Santa Barbara

#13

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN
Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
2nd Most Popular In IN
59 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the suburb of Notre Dame, Notre Dame is a private not-for-profit university with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #16 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means Notre Dame is a great university overall.

There were roughly 59 physics students who graduated with this degree at Notre Dame in the most recent data year.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Notre Dame

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
123 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Los Angeles, UCLA is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #29 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means UCLA is a great university overall.

There were roughly 123 physics students who graduated with this degree at UCLA in the most recent data year. Students who receive their degree from the physics program make around $42,865 in the first couple years of their career.

More information about a degree in physics from University of California - Los Angeles

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
109 Physics Degrees Awarded

UMCP is a very large public university located in the large suburb of College Park. This university ranks 2nd out of 34 schools for overall quality in the state of Maryland.

There were roughly 109 physics students who graduated with this degree at UMCP in the most recent data year. Those physics students who get their degree from University of Maryland - College Park earn $5,574 more than the typical physics grad.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Maryland - College Park

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
106 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the small city of Champaign, UIUC is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 3rd out of 87 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

There were approximately 106 physics students who graduated with this degree at UIUC in the most recent year we have data available. Degree recipients from the physics program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign get $4,922 above the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
82 Physics Degrees Awarded

UCSD is a very large public university located in the city of La Jolla. This university ranks 9th out of 170 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

There were roughly 82 physics students who graduated with this degree at UCSD in the most recent data year. Students who graduate with their degree from the physics program state that they receive average early career income of $41,524.

More information about a degree in physics from University of California - San Diego

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
262 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the city of Seattle, UW Seattle is a public university with a very large student population. This university ranks 1st out of 51 schools for overall quality in the state of Washington.

There were approximately 262 physics students who graduated with this degree at UW Seattle in the most recent year we have data available. Students who receive their degree from the physics program earn about $38,470 in their early career salary.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Washington - Seattle Campus

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
64 Physics Degrees Awarded

RPI is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the city of Troy. This school ranks 6th out of 143 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

There were roughly 64 physics students who graduated with this degree at RPI in the most recent year we have data available. Students who graduate with their degree from the physics program report average early career wages of $42,448.

More information about a degree in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

#20

Williams College

Williamstown, MA
Bachelor's Degree Highest Degree Type
13th Most Popular In MA

Located in the town of Williamstown, Williams is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. A Best Colleges rank of #27 out of 2,241 colleges nationwide means Williams is a great college overall.

There were approximately 19 physics students who graduated with this degree at Williams in the most recent data year.

More information about a degree in physics from Williams College

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
114 Physics Degrees Awarded

Ohio State is a very large public university located in the large city of Columbus. This university ranks 2nd out of 96 colleges for overall quality in the state of Ohio.

There were approximately 114 physics students who graduated with this degree at Ohio State in the most recent data year. Those physics students who get their degree from Ohio State University - Main Campus earn $19,236 more than the standard physics graduate.

More information about a degree in physics from Ohio State University - Main Campus

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
6th Most Popular In MA
34 Physics Degrees Awarded

Northeastern is a very large private not-for-profit university located in the large city of Boston. This university ranks 11th out of 63 schools for overall quality in the state of Massachusetts.

There were approximately 34 physics students who graduated with this degree at Northeastern in the most recent data year.

More information about a degree in physics from Northeastern University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
122 Physics Degrees Awarded

UC Irvine is a fairly large public university located in the city of Irvine. This university ranks 14th out of 170 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

There were roughly 121.99999999999999 physics students who graduated with this degree at UC Irvine in the most recent year we have data available. Students who graduate with their degree from the physics program report average early career income of $33,381.

More information about a degree in physics from University of California - Irvine

#24

New York University

New York, NY
Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
130 Physics Degrees Awarded

Located in the large city of New York, NYU is a private not-for-profit university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of #30 out of 2,241 schools nationwide means NYU is a great university overall.

There were about 130 physics students who graduated with this degree at NYU in the most recent year we have data available. Students who receive their degree from the physics program earn an average of $33,529 for their early career.

More information about a degree in physics from New York University

Doctor's Degree Highest Degree Type
1st Most Popular In DE
31 Physics Degrees Awarded

UD is a very large public university located in the suburb of Newark. This university ranks 1st out of 5 schools for overall quality in the state of Delaware.

There were approximately 31 physics students who graduated with this degree at UD in the most recent year we have data available.

More information about a degree in physics from University of Delaware

Rest of the Top Best Physics Schools

#27

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC
#31

Boston University

Boston, MA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Physics Schools award.

Rank College Location
34 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO
35 Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
36 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
37 Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
38 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA
39 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
40 Emory University Atlanta, GA
41 Baylor University Waco, TX
42 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
43 Brigham Young University - Provo Provo, UT
44 Brandeis University Waltham, MA

Physics by Region

View the Best Physics Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

View All Rankings >

Physics is one of 8 different types of Physical Sciences programs to choose from.

Physics Focus Areas

Major Annual Graduates
General Physics 12,875
Other Physics 467
Optics/Optical Sciences 196
Acoustics 96
Theoretical & Mathematical Physics 19
Condensed Matter & Materials Physics 8
Atomic/Molecular Physics 7
Nuclear Physics 3
Elementary Particle Physics 3

View All Physics Concentrations >

Majors Similar to Physics

Related Major Annual Graduates
Chemistry 21,239
Geological & Earth Sciences 7,821
General Physical Sciences 3,823
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,375
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,140
Materials Sciences 658
Other Physical Science 538
Physics and Astronomy 38

View All Physics Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to A. T. Service.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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