The University Record, March 12, 1996

Graduate programs edge up in U.S. News rankings

By Julie A. Peterson
News and Information Services

 

A majority of the University's graduate programs ranked in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey improved in standing, with the School of Education vaulting from 22nd to ninth and the College of Engineering rising into the top five from eighth last year.

The rankings, released March 7, for the first time included graduate schools of library science. U-M's School of Information and Library Studies (SILS) tied for second in the nation alo ng with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ranked first by a narrow margin was the library science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"I'm very pleased with our ranking, given that the school is going through a period of great change. It's hard to quantify what the impact of such rapid change might be on the subjective ratings made by colleagues in the field," said SI LS Dean Daniel Atkins. Unlike the rankings of the professional schools, the library science rankings were based solely on a reputational survey.

"I have a lot of respect for the schools that are ranked with us at the top. But we are perceived as being the international leader in moving to the next generation of library science and a broad array of new professional specializations for the digital information age," Atkins said.

Not only did the College of Engineering climb into fifth place in this year's graduate survey, but it also ranked in the top five in six of 12 specialty fields: nuclear (2), industrial/manufacturing (3), aerospace (4), environmental (4), mechanic al (4) and electrical/electronic (5). The College also was ranked fifth in reputation by academics and fourth by practicing engineers.

"I think we've worked very hard to increase the quality of the College," said William R. Martin, associate dean for academic affairs. "We're especially proud of how we fared in mechanical engineering because we have invested a lot of resources in this area, and the department is now ranked fourth in the country where it had not been in the top five before."

The School of Education's rise from 22nd last year into the top 10 may be partly explained by a change in reporting, said Janet H. Lawrence, director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education and former associate dean of t he School. Lawrence compiled the data which were submitted to U.S. News.

"Last year we severely underreported research funding and support for students based upon an overly narrow definition of these measures. I believe this year's ranking more accurately reflects the School's standing and academic quality, as we ll as the progress we've made in the last few years on student and faculty recruitment."

For the second year in a row, the School's program in post-secondary education, directed by Lawrence, was ranked first in the nation, this year tied with Penn State University at University Park. A second specialty area, curriculum and instructio n, ranked fifth. Overall, the School's reputation was ranked eighth by academics and fourth by school super intendents.

Lisa Baker, associate vice president for university relations, noted of the rankings: "We are a nation obsessed with lists and list-making, everything from best pizza to most admired. So one would do well to put such rankings in perspective , and to keep in mind that they are highly subjective, with methodologies that change from year to year.

"The one thing that is consistent is Michigan's high ranking across the board in academic quality," she said. "However, we are very pleased to see that Michigan has moved up in nearly every category of this particular survey."

Other programs ranked were:

 

Law School, seventh (up from eighth in 1995). The School was ranked sixth in reputation by academics and second by lawyers and judges. Two law specialty areas at the U-M ranked in the top 10: international law (seventh) and clinical training (tied for 10th with Harvard).

 

Medical School, ninth (up from 10th last year). Among academics it was ranked seventh in reputation and among intern-residency directors, fourth.

 

Business School, 12th (from 11th last year). The School was ranked fifth in the nation among part-time M.B.A. programs, and its overall reputational ranking was seventh among academics and fifth among recruiters. Business specialties r anked in the top five were general management and marketing, both fourth.

 

U-M doctoral science programs ranked among the top 20 in all six areas surveyed this year. Geology moved up from sixth to fifth in 1996, and three specialty programs ranked in the top five: geochemistry (tied for second), sedimentolog y/stratigraphy (third) and paleontology (tied for fourth). Mathematics tied for ninth in this year's survey (from eighth), with a fourth-place ranking for numbers theory.

Also ranked were physics (tied for 14th), biological sciences (18th), computer science (tied for 18th) and chemistry (tied for 20th). The magazine's last ranking of science doctoral programs, done in 1993, only listed the top 10 programs in each f ield.

Rankings for business, education, engineering, law and medicine were determined using a mix of factors such as student selectivity, faculty resources, research activity, placement success, and reputational measures. Rankings in library science, d octoral science programs and all specialty areas were based solely on reputation.

The complete rankings and profiles appear in the March 18 issue of U.S. News & World Report, available on newsstands beginning yesterday (March 11).