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External Rankings of the Michigan State University Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at Michigan State University is regarded as one of the top Physics and Astronomy departments in the country.

The bases for these recent rankings include citation impact studies and research funding compilations.

 


Research & Development Expenditures in Physics

External funding for research and development is usually awarded based on peer review. The programs which are funded are those whom other researchers in the field view as being of high quality and which propose exciting new research. Here are the total and federally financed R&D expenditures of the top U.S. Physics departments for the Fiscal Years 2005 through 2008 combined.

Rank

Institution

Total R&D, 2005-2008 (millions of $)

Federally financed
R&D, 2005-2008 (millions of $)

1 Cal Tech 447.82 439.16
2 Johns Hopkins Univ. 226.66 221.06
3 MIT 220.33 215.48
4 Univ. CA - Berkeley 219.30 175.20
5 Univ. TX - Austin 186.49 158.90
6 Florida State Univ. 178.04 103.91
7 Cornell Univ. 173.54 138.54
8 Michigan State Univ. 173.52 112.02
9 Univ. MD - College Park 164.96 108.33
10 UCLA 157.99 122.77

The universities ranked 11th to 25th were: (11) Penn State Univ., (12) Univ. IL - Urbana-Champaign, (13) Univ. CA - San Diego, (14) Univ. Wisc. - Madison, (15) Univ. Central FL, (16) Indiana Univ., (17) SUNY Stony Brook, (18) Univ. Colorado, (19) Univ. Mississippi, (20) Princeton Univ., (21) Rutgers Univ., (22) Univ. Michigan, (23) Univ. Penn., (24) Harvard Univ., (25) Univ. CA - Irvine.

These values and rankings are the result of summing the 2005 through 2008 columns of http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10311/pdf/tab57.pdf. Note that the rankings in the original table were based only on the 2008 expenditures, so the ordering differs from that in this table, which is based on the total 2005-2008 expenditures.

 


Citation Impact Study

The importance of research can be measured by the number of times a publication that reports on these results is cited by other authors in their publications.

In the Nov./Dec. 1998 issue of Science Watch, science departments were ranked based on citation impact. The results on the top ten physics departments were:

Rank

University

No. of
Papers

Relative
Impact (%)

1

Univ. Cal. Santa Barbara

2,526

176

2

University of Chicago

1,236

171

3

Harvard University

1,844

167

4

Caltech

3,588

162

5

Yale University

872

160

6

Rutgers University

1,438

157

7

Univ. of Pennsylvania

1,168

153

8

Stanford University

2,584

152

9

SUNY Stony Brook

1,385

148

10

Michigan State University

1,049

142

Source: http://www.ncsi.iisc.ernet.in/ncsi/sw/nov-dec98/sw_nov-dec98_page1.htm

The citation ranking of MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy has been rising steadily over the last decade. In a previous compilation (Physics Today, October 1996, p. 15) the ranking of physics departments by number of citations per publication for papers published during 1981-94 had been (in brackets behind names are ranking and citations per publication):

Princeton Univ. (1, 20.7), Harvard Univ. (2, 20.4), Tulane Univ. (3, 20.1), UC Santa Barbara (4, 19.3), Univ. Chicago (5, 18.8), Brandeis Univ. (6, 18.5), UC Santa Cruz (7, 18.4), CalTech (8, 18.0), Univ. Pennsylvania (9, 17.7), Rockefeller Univ. (10, 16.4), Stanford Univ. (11, 15.9), Yale Univ. (12, 15.8), SUNY Stony Brook (13, 14.4), MIT (14, 14.2), UC Berkeley (15, 13.8), Cornell Univ. (16, 13.3), UC Riverside (17, 12.9), Michigan State University (18, 12.8), Tufts Univ. (19, 12.8), Univ. Illinois Urbana (20, 12.7).

 


Other Rankings

  • The publication U.S. News & World Report ranks the major graduate programs in all universities periodically. In their 2014 rankings, MSU's Nuclear Physics Ph.D. program was ranked number 1 in the country. The overall MSU Physics graduate program ranked 29th of over 150 programs.
    In their 2010 rankings, MSU's Nuclear Physics Ph.D. program had also ranked number 1 in the country. The overall MSU Physics graduate program ranked 36th of over 145 programs at that time.
  • Nanotechnology citation rankings: MSU was ranked 4th in the world in terms of "citation impact" (for each paper published in a subject, the average number of other papers published which used it as a reference, then averaged over all such papers) in a study covering all institutions producing at least 100 papers on nanotechnology topics from 1992 to 2002.
  • The most recent ranking by the National Research Council (1995) lists our Department of Physics and Astronomy in the top 25% among U.S. graduate programs in Physics (32nd out of 147 - see Excel spreadsheet from the NRC report). (A newer set of NRC rankings, begun in 2003 and mainly based on 2006 data, are still in the process of being analyzed).