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.
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.