Yale placed first in three sets of rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” released Friday.
The survey includes rankings of both professional schools and graduate programs in the arts and sciences. Yale Law School topped the list of law schools — a feat it has accomplished every year since the rankings began in 1987 — and the graduate History and English departments were ranked first in their fields. Thirteen other schools and departments placed in their respective top tens, including the second-ranked School of Art, the fourth-ranked Psychology Department and the seventh-ranked Biology Department.
Twenty-two of Yale’s programs were included in the rankings.
School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern, whose school slipped from eighth last year to ninth this year, said although administrators do not worry about the rankings, his students do. Calling the rankings “so ridiculous it’s hard to make anything out of them,” Alpern said the U.S. News & World Report methodology inherently works against the medical school.
“The rankings are influenced by size,” he said. “The larger you are, the better your rank, an idea that comes out of the fact that an important thing in the rankings is the number of NIH grant dollars your institution receives.”
That benefits large institutions like Harvard, which has five times more medical faculty than Yale, Alpern said. Yale has more grant dollars per faculty member than Harvard, he said.
Just as larger medical schools are favored in the rankings, smaller law schools enjoy an advantage, Alpern said. Yale Law School is one-third the size of second-place Harvard Law School.
Law School Spokeswoman Janet Conroy said the administration never comments on the rankings.
“We don’t think it’s a good way for students to choose the law school that is right for them,” Conroy said, citing similar sentiments expressed by deans of law schools across the country.
School of Management Dean Joel Podolny, whose school moved up to 13th this year from 14th last year, released a statement through his spokesperson that did not explicitly mention the rankings but sought to justify the school’s placement amongst the business-school elite.
“I’m thrilled by how much the school has transformed itself in the past two years with the integrated MBA curriculum, the International Experience trips, and many other innovations and program enhancers,” Podolny’s statement read. “Anyone close to the institution recognizes the tremendous effort we’ve exerted and the tremendous strides we’ve made, and I look forward to continuing the momentum in years to come.”
Despite criticism and general ambivalence among faculty and administrators toward the rankings, Robert Morse, the Director of Data Research at U.S. News & World Report, said the rankings are a “valuable source” of information for students and faculty alike.
“Students aren’t using the rankings as the sole factor for judging schools, generally speaking, but they are using them to help determine what’s the best school for them,” Morse said. “Additionally, the academic community uses the rankings for peer analysis and for schools to promote themselves.”
But Morse said the U.S. News methodology, like all methodologies, is not comprehensive.
“These methodologies evolve as new information or new ways of analyzing data become available,” he said. “Depending on the discipline, we work with people in academics to get feedback on what we’re doing right or wrong, and how to improve.”
U.S. News & World Report also releases rankings of undergraduate programs every summer.