The long-awaited assessment of doctoral programs by the National Research Council, released today, shows a balanced distribution of high-quality scholarship within several schools at the University of Virginia. A summary of the UVA results is available online.

The NRC study examined more than 5,000 doctoral programs in 62 fields at 212 institutions of higher education across the U.S. According to the NRC, which is part of the National Academies, the purpose of the assessment is to “help universities improve the quality of programs through benchmarking; provide potential students and the public with accessible, readily available information on doctoral programs nationwide; and enhance the nation’s overall research capacity.”

“We have excellence in overall program quality across the schools of UVA, demonstrating a real opportunity for collaboration among programs,” Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., executive vice president and provost, said.

Based on data gathered by the NRC in 2006, the assessment uses variables such as publications per faculty member, citations per publication and student completion rates to create five distinct rankings – two overall rankings and three that illuminate dimensions of doctoral programs. Unlike other academic rankings that assign specific ranks to programs, the NRC assigned a broad range of scores to individual programs.

Nearly a third of the participating UVA programs were assigned ranges that reached, on one of the two overall rankings, as high as the top 10: astronomy, English, religious studies and Spanish in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; kinesiology in the Curry School of Education; the Ph.D. program in the School of Nursing; microbiology, pharmacology and physiology in the School of Medicine; systems engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; and biomedical engineering, which spans the schools of Medicine and Engineering. Many of these programs also received high marks for research activity.

Continue reading »