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I can only find evaluations/rankings for departments such as chemistry or physics, but I am not sure how to evaluate a combined program of chemical physics.

  • Could you please clarify a bit more what you are looking for? What do you mean by "strength" and why are evaluations and rankings not providing you sufficient information? – jakebeal Jan 14 '18 at 16:42
  • What are you taking as criteria ? the number of passes? the number who go further ie take up PhD posts, who gets the most funding? who has the longest experiments? who gets the best paid jobs? We can't decide for you. – Solar Mike Jan 14 '18 at 16:46
  • @jakebeal -I mean 'strength' as in courses and research. – Dina Jan 14 '18 at 16:52
  • I am looking for a place that teaches strong courses and has good research. – Dina Jan 14 '18 at 16:52
  • @Dina Rankings are often used as a proxy for this information. You can also look directly at the courses offered and the research published by faculty. If these methods are not being sufficient for your needs, can you enunciate what you need that you are not finding through them? – jakebeal Jan 14 '18 at 16:58
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To evaluate the strength of the program, you need to know chemical physics at professor level. If you are an incoming graduate student, you could try to see where the alumni end up. It's not easy, because not all the departments feel comfortable sharing that information, but you can get such information from the research groups' websites. As a rule, if people get strong academic or industry jobs doing research in chemical physics, it means it's a good academic program.

Departments also like to brag about their faculty getting large grants or joining large projects, about endowment, and research groups enjoy posting on their websites their latest published research results. If their work is highly cited, that's a good sign. Generally, if a program is strong, some of the faculty and even students obtain research prizes or fellowships. Another indirect way of telling is if these people have frequently invited famous speakers for seminars.

Still, if you want to apply to a program and you are in doubt about it, you could ask a faculty or a postdoc from the field of your interest for an opinion. Their opinion would probably be more useful than my answer here. Plus, even if you know for sure a program is good, there is no guarantee you'd find the research group that's best for you.

  • Thank you very much for your informative answer. Is it normal to ask a professor about the program they are part of? Wouldn't they be bias for the University they work in? – Dina Jan 14 '18 at 17:48
  • I meant you should ask professors you already know about the program. If you want to ask professors working there, asking about their program ranking is a bit tactless and not so much relevant. But, asking of job prospects after graduation from there, for example, would be better. – user21264 Jan 15 '18 at 11:15

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