Doctoral Programs Ranked Highly in Prestigious National Research Council Rankings

Four UM programs are ranked in the top quartile of their fields nationwide.

Coral Gables (October 06, 2010) — In a comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs across the United States recently released by the National Research Council (NRC), four University of Miami programs are ranked in the top quartile of their fields nationwide and 12 are ranked in the top half.

The NRC rankings, which are based on data from 2005 and 2006, are the first released by the agency in 15 years. In the previous rankings, which were released in 1995 and based on data collected in 1993, six doctoral programs were in the top half.

For the more recent rankings, the NRC collected extensive data from more than 5,000 doctoral programs in 62 academic fields at 212 universities. More than 20 program characteristics, including faculty publications, funded research, student scholarships, rates of degree completion, and diversity, were incorporated in the assessment.

Using complex statistical methodologies, the NRC created two overall rankings of doctoral programs. “S” rankings weighted program characteristics according to faculty survey ratings of their relative importance in evaluating overall program quality. “R” rankings applied a statistical technique known as regression to the same characteristics to predict reputational assessment of programs. In addition to the “S” and “R” rankings, the NRC published “dimensional rankings” in three subcategories: faculty research activity, student support and outcomes, and diversity.

In each of the five categories, instead of being assigned a single ranking, programs received a range of rankings. To determine these ranges, the NRC removed the top 5 percent and bottom 5 percent of the multiple rankings received by each program. The results that remain—those between the 5th and 95th percentiles—are intended to indicate the range in which a program’s true ranking is most likely to fall.

The four UM programs ranked among the top quartile nationwide in the “S” rankings are sociology, psychology, philosophy, and epidemiology. UM programs filling out the top half rankings are: microbiology and immunology; physiology and biophysics; molecular and cellular pharmacology; the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; English language and literature; chemistry; biomedical engineering; and mechanical engineering.

Many of the UM programs ranked among the top half in the “S” rankings also appear in the top half of the “R” rankings, where they are joined by programs including history, international studies, and communication.

The University of Miami also received high rankings for its diversity. Twenty of the 27 UM programs evaluated by the NRC are ranked among the top quartile for diversity nationwide, reflecting the University’s unusually multicultural environment. A high percentage of UM faculty and students hail from varied ethnic backgrounds, are female, and/or are from foreign nations.

“The recently released NRC rankings attest to the University of Miami’s ongoing evolution into one of the nation’s leading research institutions,” said Thomas LeBlanc, provost of the University. “And since they draw on data that are nearly half a decade old, we believe that the University today has an even more exciting story to tell.

“In the intervening years, we have continued to hire outstanding faculty, recruit stellar students, and enhance our graduate program offerings and scholarship opportunities. Thanks to these and several other metrics, the quality of UM and its graduate programs has risen significantly—a fact that is reflected in several prestigious national rankings. There’s no question that we have advanced beyond the strides we had made when the data used in this assessment were compiled.”

“We’re very pleased with the University’s dramatic progress as revealed in the NRC rankings,” said Terri Scandura, dean of the University of Miami Graduate School. “In addition to the significant investments we have made in our graduate programs since the data used in the rankings were gathered, we have learned much from comprehensive and rigorous reviews of our graduate programs from outside visiting committees. These reviews, which indicate that we are on track with continuous quality improvement of graduate education at the University, will also serve to guide future strategic plans.”

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