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Six U.Va. graduate, professional schools ranked among top of their fields

U.Va. Law School is ranked 8th in the nation

<p>“This week’s release of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings for 2017&nbsp;reaffirms what many of us already know: that our school remains a destination, and that we enjoy the high regard of our colleagues at many of our peer institutions,” Dean of the Nursing School Dorrie Fontaine said.</p>

“This week’s release of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings for 2017 reaffirms what many of us already know: that our school remains a destination, and that we enjoy the high regard of our colleagues at many of our peer institutions,” Dean of the Nursing School Dorrie Fontaine said.

Six of the University’s graduate and professional schools and several programs ranked in the top 40 in their respective fields, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The schools are ranked as part of the 2017 edition of the report’s Best Graduate Schools Rankings. The rankings are divided by category into business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing. Further rankings include fine arts, public affairs, health, science, social studies and humanities, library and information services.

Strengthening graduate programs is a top priority of the University’s Cornerstone Plan, Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Katsouleas said.

“It is gratifying to see so many of the programs ranked among the top 40 and a number right at or in the top 20 and top 10,” Katsouleas said. “I believe that we should pursue what we value and let the rankings follow our upward progress, rather than chasing them. The things we are doing right now to strengthen our graduate programs include investing heavily in research, such as new faculty, support for student fellowships, seed funding, etc.”

The Law School scored the number eight ranking — the highest of all University schools. The Darden School ranked number 11 in its field.

Darden’s rank comes after four years of rising in the U.S. News poll from number 13 in 2013 to number 10 last year.

Graduate business education is a competitive field, Dean of the Darden Business School Scott Beardsley said, and all of the schools in the top echelon are moving very fast.

“At Darden, our goal is to deliver the world’s best management education experience — bar none — so that our students can fulfill their full potential as agile decision-makers and lifelong learners,” Beardsley said in an email statement. “It’s gratifying to be recognized for that achievement. That being said, we are always trying to improve and are not satisfied with the status quo.”

Furthermore, the Nursing School Masters and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs both ranked at number 18. The Engineering School tied for spot 39.

“This week’s release of the US News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings for 2017 reaffirms what many of us already know — that our school remains a destination, and that we enjoy the high regard of our colleagues at many of our peer institutions,” Dean of the Nursing School Dorrie Fontaine said.

Fontaine said as the school rebuilds its research capacity in the coming years, she looks forward to programs becoming ever better, stronger and more highly ranked.

The School of Medicine ranked 28th in research and tied for 25th in primary care — up 40 spots from last year.

Public Information Officer Eric Swensen said the focus of the School of Medicine is enhancing research and education. In recent years the school implemented a new curriculum and is working to recruited additional talented researchers to join the team.

“It is always nice to see our faculty and team members at the School of Medicine honored for their hard work to provide high-quality research and education,” Swensen said in an email statement.

The Curry School of Education tied for the 21st spot in the rankings. This year’s ranking is the highest of the past decade.

Dean of the Curry School Robert Pianta said the school’s focus is on quality and influence in the work done along with a concerted effort to develop academic programs that are innovative and address student interests.

“We are very proud of the school's overall ranking and the fact that a number of our programs are ranked by peers in the top 10,” Pianta said in an email statement. “Our teacher and leader preparation programs for example, are consistently noted as top 10, and this year our higher education program made a big leap up.”

Emphasis is also put on raising the level of research funded by the government and foundations, and growing research quality and impact, Pianta said.

“Our rankings help us recruit the very best faculty and students, and they also signal to other external interests — the media, policymakers, agency leaders, employers — that Curry values and produces quality in its scholarship and in its graduates,” Pianta said. “The communication value of the rankings is important to the success of our work.”

The graduate schools in the six disciplines are evaluated on criteria such as grade point average, acceptance rates and graduate employment outcomes. The methodology varies across disciplines.

“While the overall methodology generally remains consistent year to year, U.S. News will make changes when good, comparable data are available and when it feels the update will better serve prospective students,” Robert Morse, Chief Data Strategist at U.S. News and World Report, said. “Recent methodology changes include increasing the weight of output measures, such as job placement rates and starting salaries.”

The rankings help prospective students research the academic quality of programs and evaluate the potential return on their investment, Morse said.

“It is important to note that rankings, done right, are a useful source of information for consumers. U.S. News has always recommended that students use the rankings as a start to compare the overall academic quality of different schools,” Morse said. “While a top ranking means that a program is recognized for its academic quality, it does not guarantee that the program is the ‘top’ or the ‘best’ for each person.”

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