- USC offered a 1 year fellowship which is very appealing and they seem to have the most funding and the most prestigious faculty. It's also near where I live now (and near all my family) and seems to have pretty diverse research going on. I like how interdepartmental the QI research is, although very little of it seems to be taking place in the physics department (although there are a lot of physics grad students with EE advisers, so that shouldn't be much of a problem). One of the main downsides is that it's in LA (hot, expensive, ugly, not the best neighborhoods nearby).
- Oregon is easily the nicest location and also doesn't seem to be too expensive and they also offered a signing bonus. Research is mostly condensed matter, but there is a professor doing more theoretical quantum stuff to add some diversity. The main downside is that they don't seem to be explicitly doing any quantum information research but rather happen to have a handful of professors doing related research and listing quantum computing in their research interests. I've also heard there's a lot of hippies in Eugene.
- I'll probably be able to afford the nicest housing in New Mexico. Michael Nielsen (the guy who wrote the book on quantum computing) got his PhD at New Mexico and his adviser, Carlton Caves, is still a professor there. Quantum information is listed as a research specialization and seems to be a primary focus of the school's physics research, although the set of faculty is fairly small compared to USC. The department doesn't seem to be as well funded as the other two schools, but it is affiliated with the Sandia National Laboratory which is a nice bonus. As another small positive, I managed to score high enough on the GRE to be exempt from the prelims.
Thank you, everyone. Some reflection would really help me in my decision making, though I know acceptances are a sensitive topic and hope I haven't come across as offensive or rude anywhere in this post (having to decide between schools is a problem that I am quite thankful to have).