US News Grad Rankings Are Out!

The US News just released its 2009 Grad School Rankings. I’m going to list the top ten for business school, law school, and medical school (research) and provide links to the ranking methodology for each category. For other graduate specialties, please visit the US News site.

Business School Rankings and methodology

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. Northwestern Kellogg
3. Wharton
5. MIT Sloan
5. Univ. of Chicago
7. UC Berkeley Haas   
8. Dartmouth Tuck
9. Columbia
10. Yale

Law School Rankings and  Methodology
1. Yale
2. Harvard
2. Stanford
4. Columbia
5. NYU
6. UC Berkeley
6. Univ. of Chicago
8. Penn
9. Univ. of Michigan
10. Duke
10. Northwestern
10. University of Virginia

Medical School Rankings (Research) and Methodology
1. Harvard
2. Johns Hopkins
3. Penn
3. Washington U (St. Louis)
6. Duke
6. Stanford
6. Univ. of Washington
6. Yale
10. Columbia

A few caveats: My strong recommendation is to use the rankings as a library of raw data conveniently compiled in one location and not as a tried and true guide of educational quality. They are not the latter. They are the former. To the extent you are going to use the rankings as a guide to school reputation and brand value, you must understand the methodology behind them and what they are measuring. Be cognizant of the differences between what is important to you and what is important to the rankings.

A few observations on the rankings themselves:

  1. There are many ties in the rankings, which implies that the differences in reputation are almost imperceptible when talking about closely ranked programs. For example the difference between being “in the top ten” and out of the top ten (i.e. #11) for medical (research) programs is 1 point, for the top law and business schools it’s  2 points. Don’t get hung up on these differences.
  2. The “top ten” changes little from year to year. In most cases, if you compare these rankings to the 2009 version, it looks as if US News just reshuffled the deck a tiny bit.

For more on rankings, please see:

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Law Schools Adopting New Grading Policies

In order to fairly depict student achievement, law schools across the country are reviewing their grading systems and implementing changes. For example, Harvard and Stanford Law Schools are switching from the letter grade system to a pass/fail system. Stanford Law School Dean, Larry Kramer explains the benefits of the new system:

One, the new system conveys more accurate information to employers without diminishing student incentive to work; two, it reduces needless grading anxiety; and three, it encourages faculty to experiment more with evaluative things they do in their classes.

Columbia which combines the letter grade system with a credit/fail standard is reviewing its grading policies as well. NYU has already implemented changes, allowing professors to give more A’s. Some schools, such as Chicago, Northwestern, Penn and Berkeley have no intentions of changing their grading systems.

Although the grading systems vary greatly, ranging from pass/fail to traditional letter grades to a combination of the two, University of Pennsylvania Law School Dean Michael A. Fitts emphasizes that whatever system law schools choose, it must be useful to potential employers. “When you have a less refined grading system, people who are employing your graduates are going to make distinctions, but they’ll make them on their grounds.”

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Happy New Year and Help!

As we say good-bye to 2008 and welcome 2009, I want to thank you all for your loyal following of this blog, your participation in events, and of course, your patronage.  Accepted  has enjoyed its best year ever. Thanks to all of you.

Looking ahead to 2009, we plan to make this web site and our services even better. We will roll out changes on the site throughout 2009.

We are currently wrestling with a question:  Whether or not to continue publishing recent posts from this blog on the home page.  What do you think?

We would really appreciate your taking a minute to answer a quick, 3-question survey and help us design this site in a way that suits you — or at least a majority of you. Thank you very much for your time.

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

Hastings Law School Cuts Raises and Hiring

NY Lawyer reports that Hastings College of Law in California is limiting raises, curtailing hiring and asking department heads to reduce their operating budgets by 5%. Last year the school received $10 million from the state, which represents over 25% of its operating budget. However, Hastings Dean, Nell Newton, explains that the school expects significant cuts this fiscal year and must prepare accordingly.

Despite the cuts, academic dean Shauna Marshall, says that the students will receive the same educational experience. “The changes I’m making are really not noticeable…I’ll probably not take one trip that I would’ve taken.” However, professor Joel Paul, head of Hastings’ international programs, expressed concern regarding the 5% cut, which means less money for international student scholarships and summer stipends.

Hastings is not the only school of higher education to announce cuts for the upcoming year. Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences announced that it will keep current salaries flat and it will postpone recruiting. UC Berkeley School of Law is considering a hiring freeze, as well.

Harvard Law on the Rise

In “Crimson TideThe Boston Globe provides a recent history of Harvard’s Law School and its ups and downs during the past thirty years. It also highlights the significant impact of its highly effective current dean, Elena Kagan, and changes percolating in the normally static world of legal education. A must-read for those applying to HLS and recommended for those interested in top law schools.