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2020 Best Colleges for Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences is a popular major and United States is the most popular state for students studying it. 53,768 of the 53,768 Physical Sciences degrees awarded last year were given by colleges in United States. With so many options it can be difficult finding the right fit. This year's Best Colleges for Physical Sciences ranking analyzed 479 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in physical sciences. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 25 schools for Physical Sciences students.

Choosing a Great Physical Sciences School

Best Colleges for Physical Sciences The physical sciences program you select can have a big impact on your future. Important measures of a quality physical sciences program can vary widely even among the top schools. To make it into this list a school must excel in the following areas.

Overall Quality is a Must

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

Over 80% of the schools in this list are in the top 5% of our overall quality ranking while the lowest ranked school on the list is still in the top 10%.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 79 to 1 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Better Early and Mid Career Salaries

A physical sciences degree from colleges on this list usually translates into higher than average wages after graduation. A physical sciences bachelors degree from a school in the United States helped students who graduated in 2015-2017 earn $35,669 a couple years later.

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Physical Sciences students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other physical sciences students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized physical sciences related accrediting body.

Our complete ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best colleges for Physical Sciences students.

Best Schools to Study Physical Sciences in United States

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study physical sciences. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list. Of the 479 schools analyzed, only 25 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 25 Best Physical Sciences Colleges

Any student pursuing a degree in physical sciences has to look into California Institute of Technology. Located in the medium-sized city Pasadena, Caltech is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. A Best Colleges rank of 31 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Caltech is a great school overall.

With 186 students enrolled, California Institute of Technology is one of most popular schools to study physical sciences in United States.

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University of California - Los Angeles is a great option for individuals pursuing a Physical Sciences major. Located in the city Los Angeles, UCLA is a public college with a very large student population. This school ranks 49th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

A favorite choice for physical sciences undergrads, there are roughly 365 students enrolled in this program at UCLA.

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Pennsylvania State University - University Park is a good choice for students pursuing a Physical Sciences major. Penn State University Park is a very large public school located in the small city of University Park. This school ranks 170th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

There are roughly 514 physical sciences undergraduates studying this degree at Penn State University Park.

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University of California - Berkeley is among your best bets if you want to study physical sciences. Located in the medium-sized city Berkeley, UC Berkeley is a public college with a very large student population. This college ranks 65th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

There are about 565 physical sciences undergrads enrolled in this degree at UC Berkeley.

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UW Seattle is a fairly large public school located in the city of Seattle. This school ranks 84th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Washington.

For those interested in something more advanced, UW Seattle also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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MIT is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Cambridge. A Best Colleges rank of 2 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means MIT is a great school overall.

A preferred choice for physical sciences undergraduates, there are about 203 students enrolled in this degree at MIT.

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UIUC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Champaign. This school ranks 85th out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

For those interested in something more advanced, UIUC also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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#8

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Located in the suburb Stanford, Stanford is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 7 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Stanford is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Stanford also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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#9

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Located in the midsize city Cambridge, Harvard is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 5 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Harvard is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Harvard also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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Texas A&M is a very large public school located in the city of College Station. This college ranks 89th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

With 424 students enrolled, Texas A&M University - College Station is one of most popular colleges to study physical sciences in United States.

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Located in the large city Madison, Wisconsin is a public college with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 80th out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin offers physical sciences degrees as low as a First Year Certificates and all the way up to a Research / Scholarship Based Doctorate's.

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#12

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

Located in the large suburb Princeton, Princeton is a private not-for-profit school with a moderately-sized student population. A Best Colleges rank of 20 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Princeton is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Princeton also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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#13

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech is a very large public school located in the small city of Blacksburg. This college ranks 79th out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Virginia.

There are about 223 physical sciences undergraduates studying this program at Virginia Tech.

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Located in the large city Austin, UT Austin is a public college with a very large student population. This school ranks 78th out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of Texas.

There are about 469 physical sciences undergrads studying this program at UT Austin.

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#15

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Pittsburgh. A Best Colleges rank of 28 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Carnegie Mellon is a great college overall.

With 212 undergrads, Carnegie Mellon University is one of most popular colleges to study physical sciences in United States.

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Located in the city Ann Arbor, U of Michigan is a public school with a very large student population. This school ranks 35th out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Michigan.

There are roughly 410 physical sciences undergrads studying this degree at U of Michigan.

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#17

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

UChicago is a large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Chicago. A Best Colleges rank of 8 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means UChicago is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, UChicago also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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#18

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, CA

Located in the suburb Claremont, Harvey Mudd College is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly small student population. A Best Colleges rank of 6 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Harvey Mudd College is a great school overall.

With 31 students enrolled, Harvey Mudd College is one of most popular colleges to study physical sciences in United States.

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#19

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Cornell is a very large private not-for-profit school located in the small city of Ithaca. A Best Colleges rank of 12 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Cornell is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Cornell also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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UCSD is a fairly large public school located in the large city of La Jolla. This college ranks 72nd out of 1,727 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

For those interested in something more advanced, UCSD also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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#21

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

U of F is a fairly large public school located in the city of Gainesville. This college ranks 73rd out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Florida.

For those interested in something more advanced, U of F also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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Columbia is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large city of New York. A Best Colleges rank of 26 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Columbia is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Columbia also offers 3 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree.

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#23

Duke University

Durham, NC

Located in the large city Durham, Duke is a private not-for-profit school with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 1 out of 1,727 schools nationwide means Duke is a great school overall.

Duke University is a fairly popular college to study physical sciences in United States with more than 128 graduations last year.

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UMN Twin Cities is a fairly large public school located in the city of Minneapolis. This college ranks 132nd out of 1,727 colleges for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

For those interested in something more advanced, UMN Twin Cities also offers 2 different higher degree levels in physical sciences, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree (Research / Scholarship).

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#25

Brown University

Providence, RI

Located in the city Providence, Brown is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 11 out of 1,727 colleges nationwide means Brown is a great college overall.

There are approximately 137 physical sciences undergraduates studying this program at Brown.

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Rest of the Top Best Colleges for Physical Sciences

#29

Yale University

New Haven, CT
#32

Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH
#33

Carleton College

Northfield, MN
#34

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
#37

Williams College

Williamstown, MA
#40

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD
#41

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY
#43

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT
#44

College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, VA
#46

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, IN
#48

Boston University

Boston, MA
#49

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY

Remaining Award Winners

This section represents the remainder of the schools awarded a Best Colleges for Physical Sciences badge. Showing in this list means the school was ranked in the top 15% of the 479 different United States physical sciences schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 University of Virginia - Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
52 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
53 Wesleyan University Middletown, CT
54 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
55 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
56 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
57 Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis, MO
58 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
59 University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
60 Middlebury College Middlebury, VT
61 New York University New York, NY
62 Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO
63 Northeastern University Boston, MA
64 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
65 Rice University Houston, TX
66 University of Houston Houston, TX
67 Hamilton College Clinton, NY
68 Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA
69 Brandeis University Waltham, MA
70 Grinnell College Grinnell, IA
71 Tufts University Medford, MA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

Here are some additional great schools for Physical Sciences students that almost earned our Best Colleges for Physical Sciences award.

Rank College Location
72 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY
73 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
74 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
75 Davidson College Davidson, NC
76 The College of Wooster Wooster, OH
77 University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh, PA
78 Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME
79 Iowa State University Ames, IA
80 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC
81 Allegheny College Meadville, PA
82 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
83 Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO
84 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
85 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
86 Emory University Atlanta, GA
87 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
88 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
89 California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA
90 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA
91 Gustavus Adolphus College Saint Peter, MN
92 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
93 The University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX
94 University of California - Riverside Riverside, CA
95 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR

Physical Sciences by Region

View the Best Colleges for Physical Sciences for a specific region near you.

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

Physical Sciences Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Chemistry 22,389
Physics 13,815
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,816
General Physical Sciences 4,387
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,188

View All Physical Sciences Related Majors >

Majors Similar to Physical Sciences

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer & Information Sciences 209,723
Engineering 197,582
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 157,997
Engineering Technologies 92,253
Mathematics & Statistics 47,138

View All Physical Sciences 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 NASA.

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