March 13, 2012 — The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy was barely off the ground in 2008 when U.S. News & World Report last rated schools of public affairs for its annual graduate and professional school ranking. With the 2013 rankings, released Tuesday, the University of Virginia's newest school has arrived.
Batten cracked the top 50, tying for No. 46 with City University of New York-Baruch College, the Naval Postgraduate School, Northern Illinois University, Portland (Ore.) State University, Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the University of Connecticut.
Also, U.Va.'s School of Law, Curry School of Education, Darden School of Business and School of Engineering and Applied Science all remained in the top 40, with Law rising to No. 7 from No. 9.
John Simon, executive vice president and provost, said the rankings demonstrate the depth and breadth of U.Va.'s graduate programs. "Our graduate and professional schools are distinguished for their focus on important business, social and scientific issues and for their scholarship and research in solving major problems," he said. "If we do the right things and do them right, the rankings will follow."
The Batten School began in 2007 with its accelerated bachelor/master of public policy program. Dean Harry Harding said that when the 2013 rankings were being compiled last fall, Batten was still in its formative stages.
"We had only graduated three classes in our accelerated BA/MPP program, had just matriculated the first class in our two-year MPP program, had recruited only a handful of full-time faculty, and were just starting to flesh out our elective course offerings," he said.
"This ranking is very gratifying to us, especially given the young age of our school," he said. "For a new start-up like Batten to be considered in the same league as schools with many more faculty and much longer histories is an achievement of which we are very proud."
The School of Law again led the University's rankings – holding down the No. 7 spot, a tie with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania. Its tax law program was judged the sixth-best in the nation, which was up two spots from last year, and its international law program was 10th.
The Darden School retained its No. 13 ranking, tied with the University of Michigan. Its management and entrepreneurship programs were highly ranked, at No. 6 and No. 12, respectively, and its executive MBA program came in at No. 11.
At No. 23, the Curry School remained in the top 25 for the third year in a row, and several of its specialty programs were recognized: special education (No. 5), secondary education (No. 8, up three spots from last year), and elementary education (No. 10). "Curry's top 10 presence of its teacher preparation programs has been a consistent feature of the U.S. News rankings and is a result of strong leadership and attention to quality," Dean Robert Pianta said.
The School of Medicine also remained in the top 25 for research, and its primary care program moved up one spot to No. 19, a tie with Wake Forest University. Dean Steven T. DeKosky attributed the school's performance to the faculty's continued success in earning research grants and the school's "Next Generation" team-based approach to learning, which has drawn interest from medical educators around the country.
"This new approach to medical education is helping our students quickly build skills that previously took several additional years to attain," he said.
The Engineering School held steady at No. 39, tied with the University of California, Irvine. For the second year running, more engineering specialties joined the ranked programs: aerospace, No. 34; biomedical/bioengineering, No. 23; chemical: No. 32; civil, No. 54; computer, No. 35; electrical, No. 41; and mechanical, No. 38.
U.S. News bases its rankings on expert opinions about program quality and statistical indicators intended to measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students. The data come from surveys of more than 1,200 programs and some 15,000 academics and professionals that were conducted in fall 2011 and early 2012.
The statistical indicators for business, education, engineering, law and medicine fall into two categories, the authors wrote: "Inputs, or measures of the qualities that students and faculty bring to the educational experience, and outputs, measures of graduates' achievements linked to their degrees." The rankings should be used to supplement – not substitute for – a prospective student's own research into programs, the magazine stresses.
Programs in nursing, the humanities, sciences and social sciences are ranked only periodically by U.S. News. Here are previous years' results:
• School of Nursing: No. 15; clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric and mental health No. 8, and nurse practitioner, No. 21.
• Physics: No. 40
• Chemistry: No. 45
• Biological sciences: No. 46
• English, No. 10
• History, No. 20
• Psychology, No. 23
• Economics, No. 28