I'm having a heck of a time deciding whether to apply to the applied physics programs or the physics programs at the schools that offer applied physics. My interests lie in applied physics research and I'm leaning towards working in industry or research labs over academia, but most physics programs are flexible enough that I could really do the same research from either department. I like the industry recognition for applied physics, but I like the prestige of straight physics.
I also have more trivial concerns. On gradschoolshopper, the percent of the applicant pool that is offered admission is SMALLER for applied physics (example, Cornell physics 97/400 24%, Cornell applied physics, 32/164 19.5%). Does this mean applied physics programs are more competetive, or is the average caliber of the applying/admitted student significantly less for applied physics? The applied physics departments seem, in general, to be smaller and less established. The stipends also seem to be slightly smaller and it looks like there are fewer fellowships offered per student in applied physics.
So what do you guys think about applied physics programs? Are they the physics department's bastard little brother, or are they on somewhat equal footing? The applied physics departments are smaller, are they harder to get into? Is the funding too sketchy?