Best Universities for Physics in 2022-2023

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Best Physics Universities and Programs in the World

About Physics

Physics is a branch of science that studies everything about the physical world, from subatomic particles to the entire universe. It is the most basic discipline of science and is divided into three categories:

  • Theoretical physics: This field aims to comprehend the interactions between matter and energy by developing theories based on mathematical and computer models. 
  • Experimental physics: Experts in this field conduct experiments to test various physics theories.
  • Applied physics: This field of physics is concerned with using physical laws to solve various scientific and technological problems for the benefit of humanity.

The professionals who study the laws of physics and investigate the rules that govern space, time, energy, and matter are called physicists. Physics is an ideal field for individuals who are intellectually gifted and have a strong interest in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The following article discusses how to become a physicist. It also includes a list of the world’s best physics programs and universities.

Duties of Physicists

Physicists often work full-time in research and laboratories. They are experts in all things related to matter and energy. Their research covers everything from the most fundamental physical rules of nature to the development of practical technologies and equipment. The following are some generalized duties and responsibilities of physicists. 

  • Investigate the interactions between matter and energy to learn about the subatomic particles that govern the cosmos
  • Solve scientific and technological problems using physical and mathematical laws
  • Design and test out new theories using mathematical and computational tools
  • Suggest new methods for improving existing and outdated theories
  • Develope computer software to analyze and interpret data 
  • Design and build new types of equipment based on their studies
  • Publish their findings in research papers and journals
  • Collaborate with other researchers to share their knowledge of physics
  • Stay updated on the latest research in the field of physics and mathematics

Popular degrees for pursuing a career in Physics

The coursework for a degree in physics includes practical work and experimentation as well as theoretical learning and complex mathematics. The coursework is set up so that students can study the principles of both classical and current physics, as well as a lot of mathematical principles. A bachelor’s degree in physics is the most basic degree a student can obtain to enter this field, and holders can work as physics assistants or technicians. A master’s degree in physics ensures that students focus on specific specializations in the field in order to get more knowledge and improve their skills in preparation for career advancement. The majority of students who want to work in research and academia complete a doctoral degree in physics, while others pursue post-doctoral research studies to become independent researchers. Because physics degrees require a lot of math, they are also appropriate for non-science specializations; for example, universities that offer degrees in finance and actuarial science accept physics bachelorettes.

Best bachelor’s/undergraduate programs in Physics

  • Bachelor of Science in Physics
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics
  • Bachelor of Science in Astronomy
  • Bachelor of Science in Theoretical Physics

Best master’s/post-graduate programs in Physics

  • Master of Science in Physics
  • Master of Science in Mathematics
  • Master of Science in Mathematics and Physics
  • Master of Science in Physics and Applied Physics
  • Master of Science in Theoretical Physics
  • Master of Science in Astronomy
  • Master of Science in Astrophysics
  • Master of Science in Experimental Physics

Best doctoral/Ph.D. programs in Physics

  • Ph.D. in Applied Physics
  • Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics
  • Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics
  • Ph.D. in Astronomy
  • Ph.D. in Experimental Physics
  • Ph.D. in Astrophysics

Specializations in Physics

Physics is the most fundamental subject that helps people understand other sciences and hence plays an important role in human advancement. There are numerous subfields in physics, in addition to the three main fields of theoretical, experimental, and applied physics. Knowing which physics subfields are available for specialization allows students to make an informed decision based on their interests. Many top universities primarily provide physics specializations, such as theoretical physics and astrophysics courses. The following are some of the specializations in physics:

  • Quantum physics
  • Nuclear physics
  • Geophysics
  • Astrophysics
  • Biophysics
  • Medical physics
  • Meteorology
  • Environmental physics
  • Atomic and molecular physics
  • Cosmologist
  • Optical physics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Plasma

Duration of programs in Physics

A bachelor’s degree in physics normally lasts three to four years, while part-time degrees can last much longer. Similarly, full-time master’s degree programs in physics last one to two years, although part-time programs can last longer. Most students who want to be researchers pursue doctoral degrees, which can take anywhere from three to six years to complete as they need extensive research and thesis publication. To work as independent researchers in the field some students pursue post-doctoral studies, beginning with contractual positions that eventually become permanent ones.

Country Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree Doctoral Degree
USA and Canada 4 years 1-2 years 3-6 years
UK 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-4 years
Australia 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-4 years
Others 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-4 years

Popular career opportunities in Physics

Since physics is a board filed, the job options are spread out across several scientific industries. Physics also involves a lot of mathematics, therefore, candidates with a physics degree are also offered job positions outside of the science field such as in banking, finance, actuarial science, etc. Some of the popular careers in physics are:

  • Experimental physicist
  • Academic researcher
  • Astronomer
  • Astrophysicist 
  • Theoretical physicist
  • Applied physicist
  • Professor
  • Geophysicist
  • Engineering physicist
  • Medical physicist
  • Laboratory technician
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Meteorologist

Average salaries for Physicists

A degree in physics is highly versatile. Physics is one of the most basic science and therefore, even a bachelor’s degree in physics can get someone employed in a wide range of sectors such as government organizations, laboratories, universities, media, and private industries. The salaries for physicists vary on the type of position they have, level of education, experience in the field, and the type of employer. The following is a list of average salaries paid to physicists around the world:

Country Average salary in USD*/year
France 68,965 (Glassdoor)
Japan 98,015 (Salary Explorer)
China 104,663 (Salary Explorer)
Italy 98,129 (Salary Explorer)
Australia 84,347 (Glassdoor)
Switzerland 102,338 (Glassdoor)
UK 191,394 (Salary Explorer)
USA 113,876 (Glassdoor)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Top 50 universities in the world for Physics based on subject rankings

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
1 1 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) USA Click Here Click Here
2 8 8 Princeton University USA Click Here Click Here
3 2 2 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
4 10 7 The University of Tokyo Japan Click Here Click Here
5 7 5 California Institute of Technology USA Click Here Click Here
6 3 3 Harvard University USA Click Here Click Here
7 18 6 University of Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
8 6 4 University of California, Berkeley USA Click Here Click Here
9 78 9 Paris-Saclay University France Click Here Click Here
10 31 NA PSL University France Click Here Click Here
11 4 11 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
12 45 37 The University of Edinburgh UK Click Here Click Here
13 25 24 University of California, Santa Barbara USA Click Here Click Here
14 73 39 University of Colorado at Boulder USA Click Here Click Here
15 47 17 Sorbonne University France Click Here Click Here
16 41 79 The University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here
17 64 16 University of Washington USA Click Here Click Here
18 81 60 University of Geneva Switzerland Click Here Click Here
19 24 21 Cornell University USA Click Here Click Here
20 34 25 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor USA Click Here Click Here
21 18 12 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
22 29 15 University of Maryland, College Park USA Click Here Click Here
23 16 22 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign USA Click Here Click Here
24 5 13 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
25 141 117 Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Belgium Click Here Click Here
26 13 9 Tsinghua University China Click Here Click Here
27 151-200 41 University of Paris France Click Here Click Here
28 40 73 The Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
29 22 26 University of Munich Germany Click Here Click Here
30 56 28 University of Science and Technology of China China Click Here Click Here
31 9 14 ETH Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
31 41 20 Sapienza University of Rome Italy Click Here Click Here
33 64 93 Nagoya University Japan Click Here Click Here
34 127 96 University of California, Irvine USA Click Here Click Here
35 21 18 Peking University China Click Here Click Here
36 59 113 Johns Hopkins University USA Click Here Click Here
37 86 81 University of Padua Italy Click Here Click Here
38 11 33 Imperial College London UK Click Here Click Here
39 125 48 Université Grenoble Alpes France Click Here Click Here
40 26 26 Kyoto University Japan Click Here Click Here
41 52 52 University of Pennsylvania USA Click Here Click Here
42 NA NA Institut Polytechnique de Paris France Click Here Click Here
43 31 44 Heidelberg University Germany Click Here Click Here
44 31 55 University College London UK Click Here Click Here
45 151-200 125 Uppsala University Sweden Click Here Click Here
46 99 84 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong Click Here Click Here
47 124 140 Brown University USA Click Here Click Here
48 78 30 University of Pisa Italy Click Here Click Here
49 70 35 The Ohio State University – Columbus USA Click Here Click Here
50 96 70 University of Bologna Italy Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the USA for Physics

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for physicists is expected to rise at an average of 8% from 2020–2030. This means a degree in physics will be in high demand in the USA. Also, the majority of American universities were ranked first in physics rankings by QS, Shanghai, and US News. This makes physics the best option to study in the USA. The top universities, like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, etc., offer courses ranging from Ph.D., master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in physics. Although the fees for doctoral and master’s courses in physics are quite high in America, the quality and standards of American universities are excellent. The table below lists some of the top universities in the USA offering courses in physics. 

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
1 1 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) USA Click Here Click Here
2 8 8 Princeton University USA Click Here Click Here
3 2 2 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
5 7 5 California Institute of Technology USA Click Here Click Here
6 3 3 Harvard University USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the UK for Physics

Physics degrees are highly respected by employers in the UK, and therefore, there is no shortage of employment opportunities in the UK for students with a Ph.D. or master’s degree in physics. Even students with a bachelor’s degree in physics can easily find work as assistant physicists or technicians in a laboratory. The table below lists the top universities offering master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physics to study in the UK. 

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
11 4 11 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
12 45 37 The University of Edinburgh UK Click Here Click Here
16 41 79 The University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here
24 5 13 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
38 11 33 Imperial College London UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in France for Physics

France, the fashion capital of the world is also home to world-renowned universities offering excellent courses in physics. Plus, the quality of higher education and attractive tuition fees make Frace the best place to study for international students. Most universities in France offer highly specialized master’s courses in physics, such as

  • Master’s degree in Physics by Research
  • Master of Science in Nuclear Fusion and Engineering Physics
  • Master’s degree in Nuclei, Particles, Astroparticles, and Cosmology
  • Master’s Degree in Materials Science and Nano-Objects 
  • Master’s Degree in Physics of Complex Systems
  • Master’s Degree in Fundamental Physics and its interfaces 

These French universities also offer tons of bachelor’s programs in physics. 

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
9 78 9 Paris-Saclay University France Click Here Click Here
10 31 NA PSL University France Click Here Click Here
15 47 17 Sorbonne University France Click Here Click Here
27 151-200 41 University of Paris France Click Here Click Here
39 125 48 Université Grenoble Alpes France Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Italy for Physics

Italy is the most affordable place to study in Europe. Unlike some European countries, which offer limited courses in English for international students, Italy offers tons of them. Therefore, many international students prefer to study in Italy, especially the science-related disciplines like physics, mathematics, chemistry, and so on. Many Italian universities offer a wide range of courses in physics, including basic and specialized bachelor’s degrees in physics and relevant fields. Also, the fees for bachelor’s and master’s physics courses in Italy are low as compared to the USA and UK.

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
31 41 20 Sapienza University of Rome Italy Click Here Click Here
37 86 81 University of Padua Italy Click Here Click Here
48 78 30 University of Pisa Italy Click Here Click Here
50 96 70 University of Bologna Italy Click Here Click Here

Academic requirements for studying Physics

Physics, mathematics, and chemistry courses in high school are the starting point in laying the foundation for advanced physics studies. Because modern physics research requires computer programming and modeling, a strong background in computer skills such as data analysis and modeling is advantageous. Students should also be enthusiastic about research, have a knack for analysis and problem-solving, and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This will surely improve their chances of being accepted. Students can opt for a self-application process, which is lengthy, or choose to apply via Gyanberry to facilitate their admission process. The academic criteria supplied by some of the best physics universities are listed here.

Bachelor’s level

  • A high school education with a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale, including math, physics, and chemistry as core classes
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • SAT/ACT score
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letter
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Master’s level

  • A bachelor’s degree in physics or a relevant field with a GPA of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • GRE score
  • Work experience 
  • Research publications 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Doctoral level

  • Honours or master’s degree in physics or a relevant field with a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) 
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Work experience (highly recommended) 
  • Research publications
  • Personal interview 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Big companies and organizations as well as laboratories such as CERN, Boeing, NASA, Deloitte, JP Morgan, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, and Apple hire physicists for different roles around the world.

The USA, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, France, Japan, China, Australia, Germany, Sweden, and Hong Kong are some of the most well-known countries for physics education.

Yes, the employment prospects for physicists are good and they get paid well above median average salaries around the world. Countries, such as the USA (113,876 USD/year, Glassdoor), the UK (191,394 USD/year, Salary Explorer), and Switzerland (102,338 USD/year, Glassdoor) are known for offering good salaries to physicists.

No, a doctorate in physics is not mandatory but is certainly helpful if a prospect wants to work in the research field as an independently paid researcher. A Ph.D. in physics can surely help to get hired where competition is high for jobs at top organizations like NASA.