14 Best Physics Degree Programs in 2021 - Best Value Schools

    14 Best Physics Degree Programs in 2021

    Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

    The study of physics represents the study of the entire universe. Physicists have contributed significantly to the identification of natural laws that shape the modern scientific world as it is known – Newton, Einstein, Schrodinger, and Galilei, among others.

    Physicists study large objects, like black holes or stars, but also have the skill to explain why a water droplet forms its shape naturally. Thus, students choosing to earn a physics degree explore the wonders of the world in all of its complexity and often challenging to detect intricacies.

    Enrolling in a physics degree program will offer degree candidates theoretical knowledge and practical application of that knowledge to improve many aspects of engineering and technology that impacts a multitude of sectors. As such, students graduating from a physics degree program may find rewarding work in the areas of new technologies development based on electromagnetism or new technology to improve fiber optics communication systems, to name just a few options.

    Coursework for a top-notch physics degree will include classes in quantum physics, statistical physics, geophysics, space & time, fluid dynamics, and electricity/magnetism, to name a few.

    First-year students explore both classic and modern physicists’ contributions and the mathematics concepts required to understand their analyses. As students near the last part of the physics degree curriculum, they will have the option of selecting coursework that supports a student’s preferred physics specialty, culminating in either an internship, research project, or a combination of both.  

    Top 14 Physics Degree Programs in 2021

    1. The University of Florida

    The University of Florida’s (UF) College of Liberal Arts offers two of Florida’s finest physics degree programs with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Physics. The core curriculum for the University of Florida’s physics degree programs includes enriched physics with calculus, introduction to modern or theoretical physics, electromagnetism, thermal physics, and quantum mechanics, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $3,190.50 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required– 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 52,407
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for UF is 17 to 1.

    2. Minot State University

    Minot State University (MSU) college of Arts & Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in Physics that is considered among North Dakota’s most affordable physics degree programs. Coursework for Minot State University’s undergraduate physics degree program includes university physics (Newton’s laws, momentum, oscillations and wave motion, etc.), and college physics (magnetism, optics, and modern physics), among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $ 3,345.48 per semester (Resident or nonresident) – up to 18 credits.
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 3,125
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for Minot State University is 11 to 1.

    3. The State University of New York – SUNY Stony Brook

    SUNY Stony Brook, located about an hour east of New York City, offers a Bachelor of Science degree program (BS) in Physics that offers interested students an academic specialty in optics. SUNY Stony Brook’s physics degree program includes classes in quantum physics, computation for physics & astronomy, waves & optics, and thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and kinetic theory, to name a few.

    • Tuition Fees – $3,535 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 114 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 26,814
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for SUNY Stony Brook is 19 to 1.

    4. New Mexico State University

    Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Department of Physics offers one of the state’s most affordable physics degree programs with its Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in Physics that prepares degree candidates for a rewarding career in teaching or research, among others. Classes for this physics degree include elementary computational physics, experimental electricity & magnetism, mathematical methods for physics, and thermodynamics, plus several advanced labs, to name a few.

    • Tuition Fees – $3,543.50 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 128 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 14,296
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for NMSU is 16 to 1.

    5. Henderson State University

    Located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Henderson State University offers one of Arkansas’ best and most affordable physics degree programs with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Physics, and a baccalaureate degree program in physics that offers a state teacher’s certification.

    • Tuition Fees – $4,265 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 4,037
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for Henderson State University is 14 to 1.

    6. Ohio State University (OSU)

    The College of Arts & Sciences, located at the Ohio State University (OSU), established in 1878, offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Physics that offers students four academic tracks in physics teaching, advanced physics, life sciences (pre-med), and applied physics. Students enrolled in Ohio State University’s physics degree program have the option to study abroad in Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, or England, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $5,759 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 61,391
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for OSU is 19 to 1.

    7. Texas A&M University

    Texas A&M University’s (A&M) Department of Physics & Astronomy offers several of the Lone Star State’s finest physics degree programs with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Physics or its Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics degree program with several academic track options from which to choose – the business track, the astrophysics track, or the computational science track. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) physics degree program is designed for students ready to pursue a medical or legal career. In contrast, the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is for students who intend on a graduate degree or scientific career in physics.

    • Tuition Fees – $6,076.50 (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 68,726
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for Texas A&M is 21 to 1.

    8. Michigan State University (MSU)

    Michigan State University’s (MSU) College of Natural Science offers one of Michigan State University’s best physics degree programs with its Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics degree explicitly designed for students with an interest in experimental physics or intentions to pursue their graduate studies. Classes for Michigan State University’s physics program includes thermal & statistical physics, thermodynamics, optics, quantum physics, plus a capstone cluster of requirements, among others.  

    • Tuition Fees – $ 7,230 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 49,809
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for MSU is 16 to 1.

    9. The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities)

    The University of Minnesota (UM Twin Cities) offers two of Minnesota’s most affordable physics degree programs with its a Bachelor of Science in Physics degree (provided by the College of Science/Engineering) and its Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics (provided by the College of Liberal Arts). The Bachelor of Arts degree physics degree program is designed for those students interested in graduate studies in medicine, law, business, education, or engineering, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $7,513.50 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units for the BS and BA degree programs.
    • Student Enrollment – 51,327
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for UM Twin Cities is 17 to 1.

    10. The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

    The University of Michigan‘s (UM Ann Arbor) College of Literature, Science & Arts offers a Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in Physics that requires a minimum of 29 (out of 120) credit units in classes from the physics degree curriculum. The coursework for UM Ann Arbor’s physics degree program includes the methodology of theoretical physics, modern physics lab, physics for life sciences, and electricity & magnetism lab, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $7,779 per semester (Resident)
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 48,090
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for UM Ann Arbor is 11 to 1.

    11. John Carroll University

    John Carroll University (JCU) offers two of Ohio’s best physics degree programs with its Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and its Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physics.  Additionally, John Carroll University offers a dual 3/2 program in engineering physics in partnership with Case Western Reserve University. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Physics degree can be completed for those interested in a career in law, teaching, or engineering. The Bachelor of Science Physics degree is a four-year program and delves deeper into molecular, thermal, and condensed matter physics. 

    • Tuition Fees – $21,338 per semester up to 18 credits
    • Credit Units Required –120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 3,506
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for John Carroll University is 13 to 1.

    12. Rice University

    Located in Houston, Rice University offers one of the best physics degree programs in Texas with its Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Physics. Students enrolled in Rice University’s undergraduate physics degree program must declare a major in one of four academic concentrations – general physics, applied physics, computational physics, or biological physics. Degree candidates enrolled in Rice University’s program are required to complete 64 credits from the physics curriculum.

    • Tuition Fees – $25,155 per semester
    • Credit Units Required – 120 credit units.
    • Student Enrollment – 7,282
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for Rice University is 6 to 1.

    13. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

    The School of Science, located at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) physics degree option with a focused or flexible option. These physics degree options prepare graduates for a master’s level program or rewarding careers in the field of applied physics, geophysics, astrophysics, biophysics, medicine, or the law. Classes for this undergraduate degree from MIT include experimental physics, quantum physics, classical mechanics, and statistical physics, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $26,895 per semester
    • Credit Units Required – 180 – 186 quarter units.
    • Student Enrollment – 11,520
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for MIT is 3 to 1.

    14. Boston University

    Boston University (BU) College of Arts and Sciences offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Physics that gives students a fantastic opportunity to study abroad at the CERN through a partnership with the University of Geneva. Boston University’s physics degree prepares students for careers in astronomy, R & D, environmental science, energy resource, physics, and computer science, among others.

    • Tuition Fees – $27,360 per semester
    • Credit Units Required – 128 credit units, with matriculation required in seven years.
    • Student Enrollment – 33,720
    • The Student to Faculty Ratio for BU is 10 to 1.

    Our Ranking Methodology

    The universities noted above include some of the most notable physics degree programs available across the country. These institutions of higher education have been ranked with the most cost-effective physics degree program ranked first.  

    The data that was analyzed to rank these physics degree programs were extracted from each university’s most current tuition expenses; most often, this was for the 2020/2021 school year, unless otherwise noted.

    Each university above also includes additional information to assist prospective students and working learners to make their best-educated decision regarding the physics degree program that would be the best fit for their educational and career objectives.  

    • Tuition fees represent the costs for one semester – typically at 12 credits; however, certain universities allow up to 18 credit units to be taken for no extra fee. When applicable, this feature is noted for the school. Where noted, tuition costs are for residents of the state in which the university is located.
    • Credit Units Required details the depth of the work required to complete the physics degree.
    • The college or university’s student enrollment data details to prospective students the size of the school

    The  Student to Faculty Ratio is indicative of which university may offer a small class size, which is helpful for certain students with a preference for smaller class sizes. Additional data was gathered from the NCES website when needed.

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