The Department of Physics & Astronomy at Michigan State University is regarded as one of the top Physics and Astronomy departments in the country.
1. One of the most well-known rankings is that of the U.S. News & World Report. In their most recent (2018) ranking of graduate programs, MSU's Nuclear Physics Ph.D. program was ranked number 1 in the country. The overall MSU Physics graduate program ranked 28th of over 150 programs.
The nuclear physics graduate program had also ranked number 1 in USN&WR's 2014 and 2010 rankings. The overall MSU Physics graduate program ranked 29th of over 150 programs in 2014 and 36th of over 145 programs in 2010.
2. Another key measure of Physics departments is the amount external funding for research and development. Funding is usually awarded based on peer review, and 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 2019.
Total R&D, 2019 (thousands of $)
|1||Johns Hopkins Univ.||183,818||176,299|
|2||Michigan State Univ.||140,832||89,321|
|3||U. of Rochester||106,277||102,405|
|5||Univ. of Colorado, Boulder||66,848||62,321|
|6||U. of California, San Diego||52,798||25,547|
|9||U. of Maryland - College Park||44,394||33,664|
The universities ranked 11th to 25th were: (11) Harvard Univ., (12) Florida State Univ., (13) Princeton Univ.(14) U. of California, Los Angeles, (15) Yale Univ., (16) U. of California, Berkeley, (17) Stony Brook Univ., (18) U. of Wisconsin, Madison,(19) Penn State Univ., (20) Univ. of Central Florida, (21) Univ. Michigan, (22) U. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (23) Univ. of Pennsylvania., (24) Univ. of Texas at Austin, (25) Univ. of Minnesota
The source material for this table is table 50 of https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf21314#data-tables.
3. Another way U.S. physics departments are ranked is by the National Research Council (NRC). Their most recent ranking was in 2010 based on data obtained in 2005-2006. Michigan State ranked 29th in this study. Prior to that, the 1995 NRC report listed our Department of Physics and Astronomy in the top 25% among U.S. graduate programs in Physics (32nd out of 147).