The University Record, February 25, 1998

10 graduate programs rank in nation's top 10

U-M graduate programs continue their strong showing in national rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Photo Services file photo by Paul Jaronski

By Rebecca A. Doyle

U.S. News and World Report has published its 10th annual ranking of the top graduate schools in the country. The March 2 issue appeared on newsstands Monday and was available on the Web Feb. 20.

The University places in the top 10 graduate programs in public affairs, engineering, medicine, business, nursing, education, law, history, psychology and sociology. "This survey itself has become the topic of much debate," notes Provost Nancy Cantor, "almost as much as the individual rankings themselves. The public should be clear about the limitations of such rankings.

"They do not, for example, evaluate curricular innovations, student-faculty interactions or the quality of teaching more generally--critical dimensions of a superior education program. "In this context," she continued, "it is gratifying that the University of Michigan's graduate programs continue to be recognized for their high quality. By any measure, the majority of our programs rank in the top 10 consistently. We are justifiably proud."

Ranked for the first time, the School of Public Policy tied for eighth with Carnegie Mellon and the University of Southern California. Specialty programs within the School landing in the top 10 and their rankings are environmental policy (4), health policy and management (3), information and technology (8), public policy analysis (3) and social policy (4).

Although he is "quite happy to be ranked number eight," John Chamberlin, interim dean of the School, notes that the U.S. News rankings are probably not the best yardstick for applicants to use in measuring graduate schools.

"There is a different population showing up in those rankings," he says. "Some are peers, but some are in a considerably different business.

"The field of public affairs has not jelled yet, and is not just one thing."

The College of Engineering moved up three notches this year, from a ranking of seventh in 1997 to fourth this year. Specialty areas in the top 10 and their rankings are aerospace (4), biomedical (7), civil (9), computer (7), electrical/electronic (5), environmental (2), industrial/manufacturing (3), materials/metallurgical (6), mechanical (5) and nuclear (3).

"We're very pleased to be so highly ranked this year," says Stephen Director, dean of the College. "A jump from seventh to fourth is quite substantial, and this obviously shows that the College of Engineering has an excellent, and much deserved, reputation.

"But at the same time," he continues, "I don't think we should put too much emphasis on these sorts of rankings as they are very subjective."

In fact, the methodology used by U.S. News has recently come under attack from law schools across the country. Earlier this month, 164 law school deans endorsed a letter sent to 93,000 law school applicants saying that the methods used to rank the schools "leave many important variables out of the account, arbitrarily weight others and are generally unreliable as a guide to those qualities of different schools that a candidate should consider."

A group of law school deans met with U. S. News staff last year and asked the magazine to rank only the top 20 to be consistent and to minimize the negative effect on law schools in the bottom tier.

The U-M Law School moved down one notch to eighth in a tie with the universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia and Duke University, and tied for sixth with American University in the specialty of international law. As happened last year, miscalculations in the law school rankings caused the magazine to re-rank the top 30 schools, moving Duke from 11th to the eighth slot tie and repositioning 11 other schools.

Other schools and colleges in the top tier are:


Medical School ranks ninth (unchanged) among research-oriented university medical schools.

Business School tied with Duke University and the universities of California, Berkeley, and Virginia for 10th, up from 12th in 1997. Ranked specialty programs include part-time MBA program (5), accounting (6), entrepreneurship (9), health services administration (2), international business (8), general management (6), marketing (5) and production/operations (7). Other ranked graduate programs this year are:

Nursing held its fourth position in the rankings. Specialty programs were clinical specialist (8), midwifery (6), nurse practitioner adult (4), nurse practitioner family (8) and gerontological/geriatrics (5).

Education ranks sixth, up from eighth, and came up first in its specialty area of postsecondary education. Other ranked specialties are administration (7), curriculum and instruction (10), educational policy (6), educational psychology (9) and secondary education (10).

Economics ranks 12th in the survey. Ranked specialties in economics are industrial organization (10), international economics (10) and public finance (6).

English tied with Brown University for 14th place and also tied with Brown and the University of Wisconsin for the 10th slot in gender and literature studies.

History ranks sixth in a four-way tie with the University of California, Los Angeles, and Columbia and Harvard universities. Ranked specialties are African American (7), cultural history (3), European history (7), modern U. S. history (10) and women's history (4).

Psychology ties for 3rd place with the University of Illinois at Urbana and Yale University. Specialty rankings are clinical psychology (2), developmental (2) and experimental (2).

Political science tied with the University of California, Berkeley, for second place, and ranked in these specialty areas: American politics (8), comparative politics (5), international finance (1) and political theory (4).

Sociology tied for fourth place with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rankings in specialty areas are historical sociology (5), social psychology (1) and social stratification (3).

Biological sciences ranked 18th.

U. S. News does not rank graduate programs in every discipline each year.