The National Research Council finally came out with their rankings of all graduate programs in the United States. Well, not rankings really. Unlike the 1990s report, this one doesn’t do an official rank of #1, 2, 3, and so forth. Rather, they use the data to provide a range within which programs fall, based both on scholarly criteria (research productivity, etc.) and on ratings by professors themselves. They also provide ratings on research, student success, and diversity within each program.
In other words, it is rather confusing!
The Chronicle for Higher Education provides a handy chart with all the information about anthropology graduate programs. I’ve been looking at it since last night, trying to make some sense of it.
Two easy conclusions. On the S-ranking, where “programs are rated highly if they are strong in criteria that scholars say are most important,” the same problems crop up as with journal impact factors and anthropology. The science side of things gets more citations, more articles, more research dollars and so forth. Books, journal articles that take a long time to create, the low dollar amounts involved in cultural anthro research – they don’t play as well in that ranking. A look at the difference in the divisions at Duke and previously at Stanford highlight this – Duke bio is #1, Duke cultural is #33, Stanford sciences is #3, Stanford cultural is #6.
The R-ranking, where “programs are ranked highly if they have similar features to programs viewed by faculty as top-notch,” is more the popularity game – established programs at rich and well-known universities tend to do quite well. Harvard gets a #1 ranking here, as does Michigan, the #1 in the previous NRC report.
Everyone wants a final ranking of top-notch programs. I started crunching numbers, the overall average of their high and low S-rank and high and low R-rank (scholarly and reputation rankings), but that was taking too long!
So I just went with programs where their high S-rank and R-rank were both in the top 10. And luckily that gave 10 programs! Here is the alphabetical list of the graduate programs that met both those criteria:
Of course lots of great programs are left off that list, and the NRC rankings give potential students other ways to look at the data (that Students High ranking, which covers completion rates, financial aid and other criteria could be crucial). Applied programs and specialized programs generally don’t do as well, since those often publish in other venues. In the end, finding a program where there are good professors that match your interests amd where good mentoring happens, that would be my #1 criterion if I were applying again.
Here’s the link to the Anthropology NRC rankings. Check them out for yourself!