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Top 50 Schools That Produce Science PhDs

In the newest survey of college freshmen by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, nearly Flask of test tubes35% of students said that it was "very important" for them to attend a college that provides a pipeline to the best graduate schools.

That makes sense, but what colleges and universities are the top undergraduate farm teams for graduate programs?

I've talked to many parents who assume that flagship state universities are the best incubators for future grad students. But if you're in that camp, you might want to reconsider, at least if your child is interested in the sciences.

National Science Foundation Stats

The National Science Foundation compiles data on where engineering and science PhD's obtained their undergraduates degrees. Take a look at the undergraduate institutions, which per capita educated the most students who ultimately earn engineering and science PhD's from 1997 through 2006.

Top 50 Schools That Produce Engineering and Science PhDs

  1. Cal Tech
  2. Harvey Mudd College
  3. MIT
  4. Reed College
  5. Swarthmore College
  6. Carleton College
  7. University of Chicago
  8. Grinnell College
  9. Rice University
  10. Princeton University
  11. Harvard University
  12. Bryn Mawr College
  13. Haverford College
  14. Pomona College
  15. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  16. Williams College
  17. Yale Univeristy
  18. Oberlin College
  19. Stanford University
  20. Johns Hopkins University
  21. Kalamazoo College
  22. Cornell University
  23. Case Western Reserve
  24. Washington College
  25. Brown University
  26. Wesleyan University
  27. Carnegie Mellon University
  28. Macalester College
  29. Amherst College
  30. Duke University
  31. Beloit College (My son's school.)
  32. Bowdoin Collge
  33. Wellesley College
  34. Renssenlaer Polytechnic Institute
  35. Earlham College
  36. Franklin and Marshall College
  37. Lawrence University
  38. University of Rochester
  39. University of California-Berkeley
  40. Dartmouth College
  41. Occidental College
  42. Hendrix College
  43. Vassar College
  44. Trinity University
  45. College of William and Mary
  46. St. John's College
  47. Bates College
  48. Whitman College
  49. Brandeis University
  50. Hampshire College
Only three state universities cracked the top 50 PhD list and only two of them are well known: University of California, Berkeley, and College of William & Mary. The third is a head scratcher: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology!

All the other schools on the top 50 list are private institutions. What I found most interesting (but not surprising) is that the majority of these schools -- 28 of them -- are liberal arts colleges.

Students who attend liberal arts colleges enjoy many advantages that students at large public and private universities often don't. At liberal arts colleges, there is typically a far greater chance for undergraduate research. Classes are routinely small. Instead of hundreds in a lower-division science class, you may have 15 or 20 students. Students at colleges enjoy more of a chance to form connections with teachers because the learning doesn't take place in lecture halls. What's more, it's the professors who ultimately write those graduate school recommendations.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

Science PhD image by Vironevaeh. CC 2.0.

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