Law, Darden Lead U.Va.’s Strong Showing in U.S. News Graduate Rankings

UPDATED: March 10, 3:15 p.m., with additional online specialty rankings.

Led by top-10 showings from the Darden School of Business and the School of Law, U.S. News & World Report’s latest annual rankings of graduate programs highlight a consistently strong graduate education program at the University of Virginia.

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools guide ranks graduate programs in six broad fields each year: business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing. U.Va. placed in the top 40 of each listing. (Complete rankings are available here.)

“U.Va. has long had a reputation as a place to pursue a top-notch undergraduate education, and rightly so,” said John D. Simon, executive vice president and provost. “The latest rankings reaffirm that the University’s excellent graduate programs – led by our high-quality faculty ­– also attract the best students in the country.”

The publisher builds the rankings on a combination of reputational scores, taken from peer surveys, and statistical indicators that measure the quality of faculty, students and research. The magazine also published rankings of specialties within fields, based solely upon reputational scores.

Additionally, U.S. News rates other graduate specialties on a rotating basis, including the sciences, social sciences, humanities, “the health arena” and other areas, based solely upon reputational surveys. This year’s new rankings came in five health-related fields not included in the medical and nursing school ratings, in which U.Va. either does not offer a graduate program or was not ranked.

U.Va.’s top program in the 2016 rankings was law, where the Law School’s national ranking held steady at No. 8.

The Darden School moved up one spot from last year, into the No. 10 spot. It had three ranked specialties: management (No. 7), executive MBA programs (No. 11) and entrepreneurship (tied for No. 13).

The School of Nursing rated No. 16 overall, which places it in the top 3 percent of U.S. nursing schools. Its clinical nurse leader program – a two-year, fast-track-to-nursing program for non-nurses interested in pivoting into the profession – was rated No. 2 in the nation. It also ranked No. 8 in “Nurse Practitioner: Psychiatric/Mental Health, Across the Lifespan” and No. 18 in “Nurse Practitioner: Family.”

Nursing School Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine was “thrilled” that U.S. News recognized the Clinical Nurse Leader program, which has doubled in size over the past two years. “We’ve worked to expand it in order to open up nursing to those from outside our profession,” she said. “It’s important to affirm, too, that we have much to be proud of across the board, given our programs’ depth, quality and variety. U.Va. Nursing continues to hold its own.”

The Curry School of Education ranked No. 22 overall, same as last year. Eight specialties were nationally ranked: special education (No. 7), secondary education (tied for No. 7), administration/supervision (No. 9), elementary education (No. 11), curriculum and instruction (No. 13), educational policy (No. 13), educational psychology (No. 18) and higher education administration (No. 20).

“We are very proud of our consistently strong showing in this national review of graduate schools in education,” Curry School Dean Robert Pianta said. “To remain 22nd in an increasingly competitive environment is evidence of the strength of our faculty and programs and the visibility of our impacts nationally. That several of our program areas in teacher preparation, leadership and policy are viewed in such high regard by peers is a sign of their presence on the national stage.”

The medical school listings were split into two categories. U.Va.’s School of Medicine ranked No. 26 in research and No. 40 in primary care.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science moved up a spot to No. 39 overall. It had eight nationally ranked specialties: biomedical/bioengineering (No. 23), aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering (No. 28), chemical engineering (No. 35), industrial/manufacturing/systems engineering (No. 37), mechanical engineering (No. 43), computer engineering (No. 46), electrical/electronic/communications engineering (No. 48) and civil engineering (No. 53).

U.S. News also republished older reputational rankings in other fields.

Last year, the magazine published rankings in several science disciplines, including biological sciences (U.Va. rank: tied for No. 50), chemistry (tied for No. 49), computer science (tied for No. 29), mathematics (tied for No. 52) and physics (tied for No. 44).

In 2013, the magazine ranked many social science and humanities disciplines, including economics (tied for No. 30), English (tied for No. 10, with three top-five subspecialties), history (tied for No. 20, with one top-five subspecialty), political science (tied for No. 36) and psychology (tied for No. 26, with one top-five subspecialty).

Two other graduate rankings have not been renewed since 2012. The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Affairs was ranked No. 46 among public affairs master’s programs after only five years in existence, and the clinical psychology program ranked No. 18.

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Anthony P. de Bruyn

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