U-Minn's National Research Council assessment

Get yer doctoral assessments here

This is not your usual popular-media college ranking. So those looking for a quick guide to graduate programs can move along.

Today, the National Research Council released its assessment of U.S. doctoral programs covering more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities nationwide. It’s supposed to help universities evaluate and improve the quality of their programs.

It’s also supposed to provide prospective students with information on the nation’s doctoral programs — and probably takes a doctoral student to interpret the data. (Might perhaps make a good grad school entrance exam, for that matter.)

I’ve just gotten the results, and don’t have the time at this late hour to go over them for interpretation and comparison. And if anyone out there is familiar with this system and would like to take a shot, please help me out.

Here’s the University of Minnesota’s release of its results, as well as its comments.

The U’s Web page on the whole affair is here, the National Research Council’s news site — with a section on the assessment — is here, and the Chronicle of Higher Education’s report on it is here.

Note: The methodology is different from that of the last two reports — in 1995 and 1983 — so any comparisons to past performance are supposedly iffy at best.

  • The data is from 2005, and they no longer rank by number but by range. On the other hand, you get great visualizations of data and can compare up to three programs at a time for about 21 factors. It will be interesting to see who these rankings are used both by potential students and by college deans allocating resources. But do they tell you how many faculty are in a program? how many grads? what the ratios are? Some important information is not visible.