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April 18, 2002

University schools, programs listed in recent U.S. News rankings

Pitt was included among the nation's top graduate schools in several disciplines and subspecialties in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of America's best graduate schools.

Each year, the magazine measures grad programs in five major disciplines (business, education, engineering, law and medicine), using measures such as entering students' test scores and faculty/student ratios and reputation ratings drawn from inside and outside academia.

Information on the five disciplines was published in the magazine's April 15 edition, which was published last week.

Every third year, U.S. News updates rankings for graduate programs in other disciplines on a rotating basis; this year, new rankings appear for Ph.D. programs in mathematics, applied mathematics, and sciences (biological sciences, chemistry, computer science and physics).

Rating information in these areas is not published in the magazine but rather is posted on the magazine's web site (, which lists the top 5 (plus ties) programs in each category.

The University Times obtained the extended (beyond the top 5) lists of programs ranked in 2002, which were the source of information for this story.

The magazine's web site also includes rankings done in previous years.

U.S. News issues two separate medical school rankings, one emphasizing research activity and the other a school's preparation of primary care physicians.

Pitt's School of Medicine was tied for 17th for research among 50 medical schools listed and was rated 18th for primary care among the top 52 schools listed.

The School of Education was 38th out of 54 education schools listed in this year's rankings.

The School of Law was ranked among the second-tier schools, numbers 52-90, which are listed alphabetically. A total of 175 law schools were ranked nationwide in four tiers.

Among specialty areas, Pitt's part-time MBA program was ranked tied for 17th (21 schools are listed), and its management information systems program ranked 20th (of 26).

For education specialties, Pitt's program in educational psychology was tied for 16th (of 19 listed).

Medical specialty areas at Pitt that were ranked include pediatrics, tied for 16th (20 schools listed), and women's health, 8th (of 17).

Pitt's health care law program was ranked tied for 12th out of 14 schools listed.

Within the five disciplines, U.S. News & World Report bases its rankings on data collected each fall from statistical surveys and "reputational" surveys.

"Our rankings are based on two broad types of data — expert opinion about program quality, and statistical indicators that describe the strength of a school's faculty, its research and the performance of students both as they enter and leave," the magazine reported. "U.S. News gathered the data by surveying more than 1,000 programs and 9,000 academics and other professionals in the fall of 2001."

Deans, program directors and senior faculty are asked to judge the overall academic quality of programs in their field.

Practitioners also are surveyed, including medical residency directors; judges and hiring partners at law firms; recruiters responsible for hiring MBA-holders and engineers, and school superintendents.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the statistical measures that account for the greatest proportion of a school's ranking fall into two categories: inputs (including measures of the qualities that students and faculty bring to the educational experience; the overall caliber of an entering class as measured by the mean entrance test scores; the institution's total expenditures on research), and outputs that measure how well a program prepares students for success (such as bar exam success rates for law school graduates or the mean starting salary of new MBAs).

Among math and science programs that were rated for 2002, U.S. News ranked several Pitt Ph.D. programs. These rankings are based solely on the ratings of academic experts.

Nationally ranked Ph.D. programs at Pitt include: applied mathematics, tied for 54th (of 79 listed); mathematics, tied for 67th (of 98); biological sciences, tied for 60th (of 137); chemistry, tied for 37th (of 89), organic chemistry, 15th (of 18); computer science, tied for 49th (of 70), and physics, tied for 46th (of 88).

–Peter Hart

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