physics schools
Source: University of Otago/Facebook

Physics helps us understand how the world around us works. From solar eruptions overloading circuits on Earth to melting ice in Antarctica, the science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe is behind many great discoveries that define life as we know it today. These include computer chips, lasers, solar photovoltaic cells, and magnetic resonance imaging — otherwise known as the foundation for all modern science and engineering. 

Studying physics isn’t just ideal for those seeking a career that’s exciting and impactful, but also for those who’d like to see just as much progress within themselves. It’s a field that’ll help you understand the universe, as much as yourself. Although you’ll be exploring advanced mathematics, you’ll find that being able to solve abstract equations will improve how you solve problems in the real world too. Other skills you stand to gain include the ability to think critically as well as creativity. 

With a well-rounded suite of skills and knowledge, physics graduates are sought after and paid well all over the world. Their careers can involve exploring fundamental concepts in areas like space, particles, atoms, light, or materials. They can also dive into practical research, working on things like green energy, quantum info, medical tools, and more.

If you’re keen on pursuing a career in this field, then you should consider these four top universities that offer world-class physics degrees:

University of Otago

Founded in 1869, the University of Otago is New Zealand’s first university. Ranked in top 200 in the QS World University Rankings and amongst the top 1% of universities internationally, the University of Otago boasts a maximum five-stars plus ranking from QS Stars. These stats are a reflection of the quality and excellence of a University of Otago education.

Nestled in a beautiful and unique campus town against the backdrop of giant vistas and huge skies is the University of Otago’s Department of Physics. The #1 physics department in New Zealand — and with the highest research ranking — this is where students learn within state-of-the-art facilities and take on summer projects under the guidance of top international physicists. They are as passionate as they are experts in their respective areas, which span from quantum technology and space to climate and astrophysics. Under their guidance, students learn by doing and learn group work, gaining crucial problem-solving skills that have catapulted those before them to great careers in industry and in academia.

The department offers the only energy-focused undergraduate degree in Australasia and also the oldest programme of its type. For over 20 years, it has stood out for covering the science, technology and engineering behind energy efficiency and renewable energy. A unique mix of fundamental science, engineering, environmental impact and societal understanding prepares students to become future energy professionals armed with the tools to reduce carbon emissions. Graduates are in high demand by industry and government organization wanting to reduce emissions — making it the top choice for any young person who wants to make a real impact on climate change.

The BSc in Physics is just as impactful. What sets it apart is how it’s supported by world-renowned cutting-edge research labs. As students hone their analytics thinking and problem-solving, they get to engage with teaching staff while gaining invaluable experimental and computational modelling skills. Graduates are sought after by advanced technology and data companies. Click here to learn more about the Department of Physics and here for a feel of the fantastic student experience in store.

University of Newcastle

physics schools

University of Newcastle is ranked amongst the top eight in Australia for research “well above world standard.” Source: University of Newcastle/Facebook

Ranked #1 in Australia for educational experience, the College of Engineering, Science, and Environment at the University of Newcastle develops innovative, resourceful, and creative graduates who go on to become future leaders in the industry. 

Nestled on Australia’s spectacular east coast and surrounded by some of the state’s most popular destinations, the university utilises the latest technology and innovation in teaching and learning to deliver a world-class student experience. For instance, it boasts state-of-the-art facilities and a world-class NIER building on the Callaghan campus, facilitating significant research breakthroughs through collaborative spaces. 

Under the College of Engineering, Science and Environment, lies the School of Information and Physical Sciences – a vibrant hub for research and teaching. Here, students gain modern, relevant, and comprehensive learning experience in dynamic labs, design studios and virtual learning areas that lead to exciting career opportunities, some of which are currently experiencing tremendous growth. 

For example, students can enrol in the Bachelor of Science (Physics) programme, where they will study courses in classical and modern physics, including quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, optics, nuclear physics, atomic physics and special relativity. Experiments allow students to dive deeper into the relationships between these fundamental scientific components. Graduates of this programme can then embark on diverse career paths, such as nanotechnologist, astrophysicist, space scientist and defence scientist.

Texas A&M University

physics schools

Texas A&M University’s College of Arts and Sciences offers more than 130 programmes of study. Source: Texas A&M University/Facebook

As the state’s first public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M University is a research-intensive institution in the heart of the Houston-Dallas-Austin triangle. Over 70,000 students pursue an education here, and for good reasons: affordable tuition fees, excellent campus life, valuable education and some of the best faculties in the world. The best part? The university strives to continuously improve in all kinds of ways. 

Step foot into its College of Arts and Sciences, and you’ll discover that the sentiment is especially true. It houses many departments, one of which is the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Here, students are nurtured to become problem solvers that are prepared for careers in industry, government, and healthcare as well as graduate studies, not only in physics and astronomy, but also many other science and engineering disciplines.

The department offers major and minor programmes related to physics and astronomy. This includes Astrophysics, Bachelor of Arts in Physics, Bachelor of Science in Physics and Physics Minor. Through classroom instruction, laboratories, and advising by world-class scientists, the department provides opportunities to its 200 undergraduate majors for education, research, science outreach, and community service. 

“We conduct research in astronomy and astrophysics, atomic and molecular physics, quantum optics, condensed matter physics, high energy physics, nuclear physics, and many other fields that are central to the mission of our department,” says Grigory V. Rogachev, Professor and Head of Department. “Our faculty includes two Nobel Prize winners, four members of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 Distinguished Professors, and one University Professor.”

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

physics schools

All 36 full-time faculty members in the department are physics professors, with their PhDs conferred by world-renowned universities. Source: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology/ Facebook

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is a dynamic university devoted to education and research. HKUST prides itself in its relentless pursuit of excellence, leading the advance of science, technology, business and humanities, and educating the new generation of front-runners for the world.

Zoom into the School of Science, and you’ll discover the Department of Physics, where students can pursue an undergraduate programme with a flexible curriculum based on their career goals. The rigorous academic training and research experience provide a strong foundation for those interested in further studies. 

Here, students can join the BSc in Physics programme where they will learn about exciting topics ranging from quantum computing, superconductivity and nanotechnology to quarks and black holes. With the department boasting 36 full-time faculty members who are PhD holders, students greatly benefit from these experienced physics professors who use interactive teaching skills in both the classroom and laboratories. The result? Students are better prepared to embark on science-related careers, or for further studies in physics and related fields. 

Student Lau Wing Sum (Class of 2020) who studied BSc in Physics at HKUST agrees. “At HKUST, I met professors who are patient and passionate, as well as talented schoolmates who are enthusiastic about research. Their support has made my university life much more enjoyable,” she says. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International