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The National Research Council (NRC) has released the methodology for its much-anticipated doctoral program rankings. The last time NRC PhD rankings were in 1995. The NRC collected the data for the upcoming rankings in 2006.
Unfortunately, the new, not-yet-released rankings are already under fire from industry experts and schools. Unlike the 1995 rankings, the new methodology revealed that reputation will play no part in each department's rank. Instead, NRC will take into account faculty quality (including research published and citations), student experience (including cost and duration of attendance) and diversity (the percentage of students and faculty from different underrepresented minority groups and gender). One of the effects of this breakdown is that a given university's individual departments may have different ranks (e.g., a classics department may rank at the top and the economics department somewhere in the middle).
In my parenthetical example just now, I didn't use exact spots for a reason. Because of what Inside Higher Ed calls the "subtleties of the analysis," NRC won't be able to give a set rank to any individual PhD program. Instead, each department will give a range of possible ranks. So, our classics department could be No. 1 to No. 5, and the economics department No. 35 to No. 45.
Already confused and a little disappointed? You're not the only one. And there is sure to be even more backlash when the rankings actually reach the public.
To see the full methodology, click here.
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