April 17, 2007

U.S. News Ranks C.U. Graduate Programs

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Once again, college students across the country will be able to turn to U.S. News and World Report for their updated ranking list of college programs. In the recently released non-professional graduate program list, a range of Cornell programs, including engineering and fine arts, made the list.
The engineering graduate program ranked 11th in the country, tied with the University of California — San Diego. Both programs received an overall score of 73 out of 100. U.S. News also ranked the top ten programs in a range of engineering specialties. Cornell ranked ninth in the civil engineering category as well as in the computer engineering, electrical/electronic/communications and materials engineering categories. The industrial/manufacturing and mechanical engineering departments both ranked eighth. Cornell also ranked seventh in the category for aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering.
The biological sciences graduate program ranked seventh, tying with Yale University. It also tied with the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor for a sixth place ranking in ecology/evolutionary biology. The chemistry program ranked ninth, tying Northwestern University and the University of Texas — Austin.
The computer science program was ranked fifth overall, with additional top ten rankings in specialty areas: artificial intelligence was 10th, programming language finished in fifth place and theory was ranked fourth. The earth sciences graduate program was ranked 15th.
The mathematics graduate program saw a similarly strong overall ranking with a number of top-ten specialty rankings. Ranked 12th overall, the program garnered rankings for logic in seventh place, statistics in sixth and topology in 10th. The physics program was ranked seventh overall, with the condensed matter specialty coming in at second and quantum physics coming in at 10th.
The social sciences and humanities program had a similarly strong showing. Cornell was ranked 17th overall for economics, ranking 10th in development economics and seventh in labor economics.
The English graduate program ranked sixth. English specialties that earned top-ten rankings including African-American literature in eighth place, 18th through 20th century British literature in sixth and literary criticism and theory in third.
The history program was ranked 11th overall, with the U.S. Colonial history specialty ranking 10th.
In the political science category, Cornell was ranked 18th. Cornell’s graduate program in psychology was ranked 16th overall by the survey, and the sociology program came in 14th.
For rankings of doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities, U.S. News compiled the results of the surveys sent to each institution in the rankings.
The rankings are based on results from peer assessment surveys sent to academics in each discipline asking them to rate the quality of programs at each individual institution.
Factors considered for engineering and science graduate programs include a peer assessment component, average quantitative GRE scores, the student-faculty ratio and the acceptance rate at each institution. U.S. News also calculated the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as the amount of money spent on research expenditures.
The graduate program in education was ranked 39th overall, with a score of 59 out of a possible 100. Interestingly, the rankings also noted the number of Ph.Ds and Ed.Ds granted in 2004-05. Cornell awarded only seven, far fewer than the average reported by U.S News and World Report.
The master of fine arts program was ranked 45th, with an average assessment score of 3.2 out of a possible 5.0. The rankings were based on a 2003 survey of deans and department chairs at 213 institutions offering master of fine arts programs in art and design.
Although there is a dissatisfaction with the methodology of U.S. News and other ranking systems, students such as Tamara Pardo grad believe that rankings still have an effect on applicants and disagreed with those who believe rankings are becoming obsolete.
Terry Plater, associate dean of academic affairs at the graduate school, said, “[the rankings] don’t really represent grad schools in their entirety — as students and faculty know them.” Plater added that she “would like to think that possible students look at other sources [besides the rankings],” when considering graduate schools.
Plater and Pardo both agreed that the best way for applicants to choose a graduate program lies in individual fit. Plater said that choosing a graduate program “depends on the match of the faculty and students,” while Pardo feels that the “match with the advisor’s area of research, funding, and location” are the most important factors.