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Top Schools for Geophysics & Seismology

by Laura Leddy Turner, studioD

Geophysics, the study of earth, encompasses a broad range of scientific disciplines that focus on different aspects of earth, including its marine, environmental, gravitational and atmospheric features as well as its natural resources, such as petroleum. Seismology is the discipline of geophysics that relates to the study of earthquakes and other phenomena. Several top colleges offering geophysics degrees also are well-known for their seismology programs.

California Institute of Technology

The geophysics and seismology program at California Institute of Technology has been consistently ranked as the top program in the nation by "U.S. News & World Report." Located in suburban Pasadena, Caltech is a selective, private university with a 3-to-1 student-faculty ratio. Caltech offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in geophysics and seismology. Social and academic life centers around the campus's eight residences where eighty-percent of students spend at least four years. While there, they enjoy a long-standing Caltech tradition: dinners served by student waiters.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology shares a first place ranking with Caltech for its earth sciences program, but takes second place for its geophysics and seismology program. Rather than just settling for being No. 2, MIT students regularly prank their rivals with stunts such as stealing Caltech's three-ton Fleming Cannon and transporting it cross-country to MIT's Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. Pranks aside, MIT awards bachelor's through doctoral degrees in geophysics and seismology. With an undergraduate population of about 4,500 in 2013, the student-faculty ratio is 8-to-1.

Texas A&M University

The first public institution of higher learning in Texas, Texas A&M University was ranked second among all U.S. universities in a survey by "The Wall Street Journal" asking recruiters to name the school whose graduates they prefer to hire. This research-intensive college offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in geophysics and seismology at its College Station campus. "U.S. News & World Report" ranked the school 19th for Best Value and students within certain income brackets attend for free.

Stanford University

Though mid-size in enrollment with about 6,700 students in 2013, Stanford's campus is the largest in the nation, occupying 8,180 acres between San Francisco and San Jose, California. Stanford's only small feature is its acceptance rate -- seven percent. However, the high-achieving students accepted at Stanford will have the opportunity to earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree at a college whose geophysics and seismology program is ranked third in the nation by "U.S. News & World Report." Students are guaranteed housing for their undergraduate years and ninety-five percent of students live on campus.

Other Programs

Several other schools are highly rated for their geophysics and seismology programs. On the West Coast, the University of California Berkeley and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles were ranked fourth and ninth respectively by "U.S. News & World Report." East Coast schools that were highly ranked by the same publication include Columbia University in New York, which was ranked fifth, and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, which was ranked 14th.

About the Author

Laura Leddy Turner began her writing career in 1976. She has worked in the newspaper industry as an illustrator, columnist, staff writer and copy editor, including with Gannett and the Asbury Park Press. Turner holds a B.A. in literature and English from Ramapo College of New Jersey, with postgraduate coursework in business law.

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