School of Medicine falls to third in new rankings
Washington University’s School of Medicine dropped one ranking to third in the nation in this year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate and professional programs, released on Friday.
The rankings also lowered the University’s law school from 20th to a tie for 24th with the University of Notre Dame, and moved the Olin School of Business MBA program up seven places to 32nd in the nation. The School of Engineering and Applied Science moved up two places to 34th in a tie with the University of Virginia, North Carolina State University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“I think it’s almost meaningless,” said Dr. Larry J. Shapiro, dean of the School of Medicine, of the school’s drop from second to third. “First of all, if you look at the actual ranking data, you’ll see that three schools-John Hopkins, us and the University of Pennsylvania-are all separated by one point on that ranking. It’s too close to call. Whether we’re second or third or fourth doesn’t matter a great deal.”
In the published scores, Harvard University’s medical school came in first, with runner-up John Hopkins University garnering a score of 82, Washington University placing third with 81 and the number four slot going to the University of Pennsylvania with 80 points. Washington University’s School of Medicine has remained in the top ten since U.S. News began its annual rankings in 1987.
“Individual schools and universities are distinctive,” Shapiro said. “Direct competitive comparisons are difficult. We’re not all trying to accomplish exactly the same things. Rankings have taken on a life of their own-we can’t say that we ignore them, but one has to recognize it’s only one measure of the quality of an institution.”
In terms of student performances, the students at Washington University’s School of Medicine were ranked first for having both the highest undergraduate grade-point averages and highest test scores on medical school entrance exams (MCATs) for the eighth consecutive year. The school received close to 4,000 applications for 120 positions in the entering class, Shapiro said.
The University’s law school received a record level of applications this year, up 28 percent from this same time last year.
School of Law Dean Joel Seligman does not think the school’s new ranking will have any significant impact on applications in the coming year.
“The School of Law is bunched with a very tightly contested group of schools in the rankings process, and some fluctuation in rankings is expected each year,” he said. “Washington University School of Law remains a hot school.”
The law school’s Clinical Education Program is ranked third and its Intellectual Property and Technology Law Program is tied for 19th, both of which are the highest rankings the programs have ever received. The International Law Program at the school was also recognized at 16th in the rankings.
Although the Olin School of Business jumped seven places from a 39th-place tie to 32nd, this ranking is inconsistent with the rankings of different MBA programs within the school, explained Dean Stuart Greenbaum.
“The rankings are enormously variable. If you look at all the other programs, they are ranked between number 11 (part-time MBA) and number 16 (executive MBA). I think it would please me if we were in the same range as these programs,” Greenbaum said.
He went on to note that Forbes most recently ranked the Olin School’s full-time MBA program 12th in the nation.
The higher ranking that the School of Engineering and Applied Science also saw this year is not the end of increased rankings among the University’s graduate programs. For instance, the Department of Education in Arts & Sciences jumped 15 places to a tie for 40th this year. It is the only education department ranked in the top 40 in graduate education-all others ranked by U.S. News are separate schools of education.
Altogether, 15 of the University’s schools, departments or programs were listed in the top 20 rankings this year, including cognitive psychology at 11th, political science at 16th, and political methodology at ninth.
The book “America’s Best Graduate Schools” is scheduled to hit bookstores today, as is the April 11 edition of U.S. News & World Report Magazine, which will also contain many of this year’s rankings.
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