NEWS

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April 28, 2009

Law and Medical schools rise in U.S. News rankings

The University of Chicago’s graduate programs again received high marks in rankings released by U.S. News and World Report Friday.

The Law School rose from seventh to sixth place, tied with the University of California-Berkeley’s law school. The Pritzker School of Medicine jumped three places in the rankings, from 16th to 13th. The Booth School of Business’s ranking went down from fourth to fifth place and is now tied with MIT’s Sloan School of Business.

The U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings are based on a variety of factors, including expert opinions on the quality of certain programs and statistical data regarding the quality of students and professors, such as test scores.Deans of admissions from the U of C’s business, law, and medical schools stressed that rankings were an imperfect science, and that they should be considered in that context.

“The [U.S. News] ranking system does not so much measure what it should, but what it can,” Pritzker Dean Herbert Abelson said in an e-mail interview. “It has identified several quantitative measures associated with quality that can be measured across medical schools in the country and has developed a formula to compare schools consistently but certainly not comprehensively. I frankly cannot imagine any formulaic approach that could manage that. Therefore, the ranking’s usefulness is real, but limited.”

Other graduate programs at the U of C were also highly ranked this year. The University tied with Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell for the top program in economics. The physics program was ranked eighth, tied with the University of Illinois. The mathematics graduate program was ranked sixth and the English program was ranked seventh, tied with Cornell and Princeton.

While Abelson said Pritzker is “pleased” to be ranked highly, he pointed to significant gaps in the information conveyed by such rankings. For example, he said, though rankings provide useful information about a school’s selectivity, the emphasis on total amount of NIH grants received favors larger institutions over smaller ones.

Booth dean Rosemaria Martinelli said the discrepancies between multiple rankings mean that students should consult multiple sources. “Since different rankings evaluate different components of a school, prospective students should look beyond just one ranking,” Martinelli said.

Law School dean Ann Perry also suggested that the statistical information rankings do not give prospective students enough information to make a good choice about graduate schools. “Yes, the rankings do receive attention, especially this time of year when students are making decisions,” Perry said in an e-mail interview. “[But] a student needs to make sure that the program matches their interests and goals.”

U.S. News and World Report also noted that its rankings should not be the only considerations in a student’s search for the right school. “It’s important that you use the rankings to supplement—not replace—careful thought and your own inquiries,” according to its Web site.