Harvard Medical School (HMS) announced on January 17, 2023, that it will no longer provide data to or participate in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
In a letter to the Harvard medical and dental school communities, Dean George Q. Daley announced the change – one he has considered since he first took on the role of dean six years ago.
He noted that educators and critics have long faulted the U.S. News methodology but that his concerns are more “philosophical than methodological.” He feels that the publication’s survey “cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education programs.”
Most importantly, he stated that “the suitability of any particular medical school for any given student is too complex, nuanced, and individualized to be served by a rigid ranked list, no matter the methodology.”
He invited candidates interested in applying to HMS to do their own research by visiting the school’s website and by reviewing the information available on Medical School Admission Requirements™ (MSAR) Reports for Applicants and Advisors.
Accepted’s founder, Linda Abraham, has repeatedly asserted, “The U.S. News rankings are misnamed. They are sources of data about schools. However, the only ones ranking schools should be the applicants based on criteria that are important to them.” She, too, is a big fan of MSAR and considers it an excellent source of information for med school applicants.
Dean Daley noted that he was inspired by his colleague at Harvard Law School (HLS), Dean John Manning, who announced HLS’s withdrawal from the U.S. News law school rankings in November 2022. HLS was joined by Yale Law School (YLS) on the same day, and since then, a little more than a dozen law schools, mostly top ranked, have refused to participate in the publication’s survey.
Accepted med school admissions consultant Cydney Foote notes that several medical schools withdrew from the rankings several years ago, including the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University, the University of Arizona College of Medicine, the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
HLS’s and YLS’s decisions in November were quickly followed by those of other law schools, primarily highly ranked programs.
So far, no other medical schools have withdrawn from the rankings in the wake of HMS’s action. Will they or won’t they?
It will be interesting to see whether MBA programs, specifically Harvard Business School, follows the example set by HMS and HLS. B-school deans have also been critical of the rankings for years.
What is U.S. News’ reaction to all this? The publication says it will continue to rank law schools using publicly available data. It will probably also continue to rank medical schools if elite schools withdraw, using publicly available data.