UM, Hopkins doctoral programs ranked near top in study

College Park ranks 16th, Hopkins 23rd in doctorates awarded

September 28, 2010|By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Dozens of doctoral programs at the University of Maryland, College Park and the Johns Hopkins University rank near the top in their respective fields, according to a long-awaited report released Tuesday by the National Research Council.

College Park ranks 16th and Hopkins 23rd in the number of doctoral degrees awarded, according to the report, which covers more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields.

The report, based on data collected from 212 universities during the 2006-2007 academic year, defies easy explanation. Each program was given two scores. The "S" ranking reflects how well its characteristics lined up with those deemed most important by academics in the field, such as number of publications per faculty member, the amount of time needed to complete a doctoral degree and diversity of faculty. The "R" ranking grades a program's reputation among faculty members in the field. The council ranked each program within a range based on its statistical formulas.

For example, the physics program at Hopkins ranks between No. 16 and No. 59 in the "S" rating and its counterpart at College Park ranks between No. 23 and No. 66. In mechanical engineering, College Park ranks between No. 11 and No. 31, while the University of Maryland, Baltimore County ranks between No. 48 and No. 89.

And the "S" rankings are often quite different from the "R" ratings.

Because of the complexities, university officials were reluctant to be too specific about where their programs ranked.

A news release from College Park said that "as many as 36 out of 56 ranked Maryland programs were among the top 25 programs in their fields."

The release went on to say that programs in aerospace engineering, agricultural and resource economics, comparative literature, computer science, geography, linguistics, atmospheric and oceanic science, and public policy seemed to rank highly no matter how the data were interpreted.

The authors of the study said they hoped to avoid the simple rankings popularized by publications such as U.S. News and World Report and to instead give detailed assessments of individual programs in a wide range of important areas.

Hopkins officials said they're less interested in the report's rankings than in the data it provides on areas such as degree-completion rates, faculty diversity and financial aid.

"In the coming days and weeks we will be working with our faculty in a detailed analysis of the data to determine both where we are and what we can do to improve our programs," said Hopkins Provost Lloyd Minor.

The council is part of the nonprofit National Academy of Sciences, which provides research and policy advice on national issues of science, technology and health. It last delivered a comprehensive review of doctoral programs in 1995, and the release of the latest rankings was delayed several times over the past three years.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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