UW Ranks 16th Nationally In Quality Of Doctoral Programs

A study by the National Research Council recently ranked graduate programs at the University of Washington 16th in the country among 274 universities whose programs were evaluated.

The study involved a survey of 8,000 university faculty members, who evaluated doctorate programs for teaching effectiveness, academic quality of the faculty and level of research.

Four years in the making, the National Research Council study is a snapshot of doctoral programs as they appeared in 1992-93. "No other study of graduate education has the scope of the NRC report," commented the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The UW had 11 programs ranked among the top 10 nationally. They included bioengineering, oceanography, biostatistics, botany/zoology, physiology, molecular and cellular biology, computer science, statistics, pharmacology, geography and sociology. Out of the 38 UW programs evaluated, 27 placed in the top 25 nationally.

Among public universities, only Cal-Berkeley, UC-San Diego, Wisconsin, Michigan and UCLA ranked higher.

Also, in its Sept. 18 issue, U.S. News & World Report ranked the UW 50th among "national universities" in the quality of its undergraduate program. Although the UW ranked 27th nationally in its academic reputation, the University admits students with relatively lower SAT scores and grades than other schools included in the "national university" category.

"To some extent, the magazine rankings penalize prominent public universities which have an obligation to serve the students in their home state," says Fred Campbell, dean of undergraduate education. "Obviously, the University of Washington and other state universities are not going be as selective in admissions as private universities such as Harvard, or as public universities that draw students nationwide, such as the University of Michigan. Whether this is an accurate measure of the quality of the institution is something I question."

Of the top 25 schools in the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate survey, only two are public institutions--the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan.

The survey also ranked undergraduate programs in business and engineering, with the UW business school tied for 16th and engineering tied for 17th.

In its Sept. 25 issue, U.S. News ranked the UW 14th nationally as a "best buy," based upon "sticker price," while it ranked 50th based upon "discounted tuition." The discounted tuition takes into account what the average student is likely to receive in need-based grants. Both rankings use formulas that relate price to "value," based on the Sept. 18 rankings.

In an earlier survey, Money magazine identified the UW as the 21st best value among all universities.

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