If the latest U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings are to be believed, the Yale School of Management has come a long way in the last year.

The report, which hit newsstands yesterday, places the School of Management 12th among America’s best graduate schools of business, an impressive relative showing and a four-spot increase from last year’s 16th-place ranking. Other notable professional sons of Eli include the Yale School of Law, which has ranked first as long as U.S. News and World Report has been issuing rankings, and the School of Medicine, which clocked in at a solid eighth-place ranking.

Yale also earned first place ties for its graduate history and English programs. The graduate mathematics program tied for sixth with the University of Chicago, and economics ranked seventh.

But the most distinctive jump between last and this year was in the School of Management’s official ranking.

“I’m pleased overall with the results this year,” said Eugene Podkaminer SOM ’01, who writes a regular column for Business Week about his master’s of business administration experience.

“But anyone is doing themselves a disservice if they only look at rankings. Students in the know don’t really pay much attention to them,” he said.

Despite what Podkaminer calls the relatively arbitrary and subjective criteria U.S. News uses to rank schools, prospective students and employers still place heavy value on the results, he said.

The School of Management, with a final score of 86 out of 100, tied with New York University and the University of California at Los Angeles for 12th place. Stanford, with a perfect score, took the top business spot, but was closely followed by Harvard and Northwestern universities. According to the official report, Yale School of Management graduates make an average of $102,383 in their first year after graduation, roughly $10,000 fewer than graduates of the top five ranked schools.

But the law school, as always, litigated itself to another top finish with a perfect score and the highest median LSAT scores again this year. Future Yalie lawyers maintained a sizeable lead in almost all categories, fending off Stanford University, the second-place finisher, and third-place Harvard.

Last year, the business and medical schools dropped one and three places respectively. This year, while SOM climbed the charts, the School of Medicine held its ground firmly, registering at eight again.

Podkaminer said people should take the rankings with a grain of salt because the statisticians at U.S. News can never have a full understanding of the value of a program without attending each program.

“Picking a school is like starting a relationship,” he said, “you have to make sure it’s a good fit.”