AMHERST, Mass. - The College of Engineering and the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts are in the top 50 of this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The graduate program in communication disorders is listed as No. 29 in the country in a section rating speech pathology graduate programs. The magazine started ranking the nation’s best graduate schools in 1987. The rankings are in the March 2 issue, due to reach newsstands Feb. 23.
In what the magazine calls "the only independent data-based assessment available of the nation’s colleges and universities," schools and colleges are measured by reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources, and research activity. University Provost Cora B. Marrett said: "These rankings represent the advances the University is making and will continue to make." Marrett also praised the faculty, staff, and students whose "dedication and commitment to high-quality education" made the top rankings possible.
The College of Engineering is ranked No. 45 out of the nation’s 219 graduate accredited engineering programs. Joseph I. Goldstein, dean of engineering, said: "I am delighted. This is great news. It is a tribute to the continuing high quality of our faculty."
While the college had been ranked No. 44 a year ago, Goldstein said that there is very little difference between numbers 30 to 50, and that the difference between 44 and 45 "is statistically insignificant." He also credited the top-50 ranking to an increase in research dollars – up 10 percent in fiscal year 1997 from the preceding year – and to a number of important national awards won by engineering faculty in the past year.
The School of Education is ranked No. 49 out of the nation’s 191 graduate education programs that grant Ph.D. or Ed.D. degrees. Several years ago, the school was ranked as high as No. 34, but, according to Dean Bailey W. Jackson, dropped out of the top 50 as the school reorganized and began to implement its new strategic plan.
"We are inching back up toward our goal of becoming one of the top 25 schools of education in the country," Jackson said. "I see this as a positive first step." He attributed the re-appearance on the top 50 list in part to faculty dedication, several outstanding new faculty members, and the refocusing of the school’s strength into certain strategic areas.
This year was the magazine’s first time for ranking a number of health disciplines, including speech pathology. Rankings were determined through surveys sent to deans, faculty, and administrators of accredited graduate programs asking for ratings based on scholarship, curriculum, and the quality of faculty and graduate students.
Commenting on the No. 29 ranking for the communication disorders department, professor Harry N. Seymour, department chair, said the 10-member department draws its strength from a combination of research and clinical work, and close collaboration with other academic disciplines on campus. "We’re a small, but well-rounded department," Seymour said. "It pleases me that we are held in such high regard by our colleagues around the country."
Stephen H. Gehlbach, dean of the University’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, says the No. 29 ranking "is a clear indication of the continuing increase in quality of our programs."
NOTE: Not every program or school is evaluated each year. Other UMass programs still ranked, but not re-evaluated this year, include computer science (No. 22), creative writing (No. 10), and polymer science and engineering (No. 1 in a list of specialty programs under the chemistry category).