Facts and Figures

The School of Physical Sciences opened its doors in 1965 with 212 undergraduate majors, 55 graduate students, and 25 faculty members. Today, just over 50 years later, we have 2,104 undergraduate majors, 512 graduate students, and 159 faculty members. The Departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics & Astronomy were started at the opening of the campus in 1965. The Department of Earth System Science was initiated as a graduate program in 1989 and the Department and Ph.D. program were formalized in 1994. In 1995, the School garnered international prominence when founding faculty members F. Sherwood Rowland (chemistry) and Frederick Reines (physics) each received the Nobel Prize.

All our departments are highly ranked. The Academic Analytics rankings (among AAUs / UCs) are as follows: Chemistry: 18th / 5th; Earth System Science: 3rd / 1st; Mathematics: 2nd / 1st; and Physics & Astronomy: 12th / 4th. These rankings are based on the overall quality of the research program and faculty productivity. Our graduate programs are among the most productive in the nation, ranking in the top 20 nationally for Ph.D. production.  The School of Physical Sciences also teaches 85% of UCI freshmen during their first two quarters, helping them achieve the basic skills necessary for their various majors.

Students and faculty in the School of Physical Sciences are often recognized for their outstanding contributions to the sciences. Since the founding of the School of Physical Sciences, 12 faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (one became Academy President) and 10 have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Further highlights are listed below:


Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry



The school gained international prominence in 1995 when professors F. Sherwood Rowland (Chemistry) and Frederick Reines (Physics) each received Nobel Prizes, making UC Irvine the first public university with faculty honored in two different fields in the same year.



The National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer. Fourteen faculty members from the School of Physical Sciences have been elected; including:


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences


The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs. Eleven faculty members from the School of Physical Sciences have been elected; including:

*(d) deceased 

To learn about more faculty and student awards and achievements, please visit the department pages for Chemistry, Earth System Science, Mathematics and Physics & Astronomy.


School of Physical Sciences Facts

  • Founded in 1965
  • ESS was the first department in the world dedicated to studying climate change
  • 71 Patents issued for Physical Sciences Research
  • 160 Faculty members
  • 1990 Average SAT Total V/M/W score of incoming freshman (Fall 2018)
  • 3.92 Average GPA of incoming freshman (Fall 2018)
  • Four departments:

Undergraduate Student Enrollment (2017-2018)

  • Chemistry: 516
  • ESS: 236
  • Math: 1108
  • Physics and Astronomy: 291
  • Total: 2339

Graduate Student Enrollment (2017-2018)

  • Chemistry: 215
  • ESS: 51
  • Math: 101
  • Physics and Astronomy: 126
  • Total: 493

Degrees Awarded (2016-2017)

  • Bachelors Degrees: 345
  • Masters Degrees: 62
  • Doctorate Degrees: 82
  • Total: 489