Re: Good undergraduate physics departments



MSU
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Take a math degree first, then physics later. You are going to need math anyway, no matter what. Androcles.
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On Fri, 14 Jan 2005 11:22:40 -0500, AllYou! wrote:

I got my physics degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. They have an excellent program. Let me know if you have any specific questions, and I can try to answer them.
Chad
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U.C. Berkeley.
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I think you're going about this the wrong way (in more ways than one, but I'll focus on one for now). While it's probably possible to make a quick top ten list of physics departments based on research output and reputation, I don't think that's going to tell you much at all about the quality of the undergraduate education you'd get there. I used to teach at a public university with 40,000 students, and while a few of those students certainly got a world-class education, the masses did not-- it's simply not possible given the size of the place. Most physics classes at the lower levels there were lectures with 500+ students and a half-dozen TAs doing all the heavy lifting.
For the last eight years I've taught at a much smaller private school. Here our largest class of any kind is the fall section of intro biology, and it's capped at 75 (16 per lab section). There are no TAs. Sophmore physics majors are rarely in classes with more than 16 students total (our standard lab section size) and the upper division courses are almost always smaller than 10. We graduate perhaps 6-8 physic majors each year, but have six full-time physicists on the faculty. A few students from each class also go into 3-2 programs with larger public schools, doing three years here before moving on.
Small schools may not have nuclear reactors or particle accelerators, but what they do have are faculty who will know you by name. We offer research opportunities to all of our physics majors (actually, to almost all of our students in any major). We have a close to 100% placement rate among physic graduates applying to graduate school. These majors know each other, know their profs, never meet a TA, and often have their own labs to work in. I know there's nothing comparable at any of the universities people will label "the best" places to study physics.
Just a thought to keep in mind. I chair the environmental studies department at our school, so have no connection to physics other than occasionally teaching some of their students taking core classes. But if my kids were interested in a physics major, I'd send them to a liberal arts school long before we looked at any research university.
Regards,
Derek
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Note follow-ups.
AllYou! wrote:

Perhaps this should be discussed in sci.physics.
--

FF


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http://tinyurl.com/4768w points to a search result on amazon that lists books which answers precisely the question you asked. Your decision about which university to attend hinges on too many undefined variables. Good luck on your search.
-Derek.
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