Yale Law remains number one as criticism of ranking rises

Yale Law School will spend 2006 as the number one law school in the country again, while other University graduate and professional schools are ranked among the best in the nation according to the 2006 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Rankings of America’s Best Graduate Schools. But more and more graduate schools are publicly urging applicants not to focus on rankings.

The Law School has held the number one position for almost two decades. The Yale School of Management placed 15th for business schools around the country, slipping one spot from last year, and the Yale School of Medicine ranked 11th for medical research schools around the country.

Harvard Business School ranked first among business schools with Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania tying for second. In the medical school ranking, Harvard ranked first with Johns Hopkins and Washington University coming in second. Harvard’s law school ranked second while Stanford’s came in third.

The report attributed Yale Law School’s success to its “freewheeling” and “anarchic” approach to teaching.

Janet Conroy, spokesperson for Law School, declined to comment on the Law School’s consistent hold on its number one ranking spot because Dean Harold Koh has signed an agreement with over 125 other law school deans on the Law School Admissions Council opposing rankings in general and specifically the U.S. News and World Report Rankings.

“The idea that all law schools can be measured by the same yardstick ignores the qualities that make you and law schools unique, and is unworthy of being an important influence on the choice you are about to make,” a letter on the council’s Web site reads.

U.S. News and World Report did not return phone calls requesting comment on the validity of the rankings. The magazine’s Web site, however, explains that the schools are ranked using a combination of statistical data and expert assessment data.

The Yale School of Management tied for 15th with Cornell’s Johnson School this year. The SOM was tied for 14th last year with Cornell and New York University’s Stern School of Business. In the specialty rankings this year, the SOM ranked first in the non-profit category for the 13th year in a row and 16th in finance, a five place jump from 21st last year. SOM also rose in the management category up two spots to 15th from 17th last year.

Anne Coyle, the director of admissions at the Yale School of Management said the magazine’s rankings will have no effect on this year’s applicant pool as application deadlines have passed. But the SOM’s gradual rise on the ranking scales in recent years probably has had some effect on admissions, Coyle said.

“This year we do have a slight increase in the number of applications over last year and most or all of our peer schools have seen a significant decline,” Coyle said.

Harvard Business School spokesman Jim Aisner said Harvard does not make any specific effort to place high on any ranking system.

“We try to make this as good of a school as we can … and accolades follow in its wake,” he said. “There are a lot of things involved … but we think it is a mistake to focus too much on the rankings.”

Several of Yale’s graduate programs, including biological sciences, mathematics, economics, English, history, political science and psychology, were also ranked in the top 10 by the magazine.

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