Frequently Asked Questions–Rankings

Methodology FAQ.

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We have expanded the number of schools in business, education, engineering, and medicine for which we publish the rankings.

In those disciplines where we collect peer assessment data only, we publish in print the ranks of roughly one quarter of the schools we survey. In our premium online edition, we increase that number to include all schools that achieve a score of 2.5 or higher on a 5-point scale.

We rank 184 U.S. law schools, including all those that have fully approved American Bar Association accreditation status. Law schools from Puerto Rico and those that have provisional accreditation status are not ranked. In the fields of business, education, engineering, and medicine we publish lists of the top-ranked schools.

For schools of education, we present a table showing some important information about the teacher training and professional development programs at all the education schools that returned our survey. This table lists them alphabetically; it should not be confused with a ranking.

Back to top. 4. How do you select the schools or programs you rank and which programs are newly ranked this year?

If an accrediting body exists for a discipline or professional preparation program, we use the list of accredited programs at the time our survey is constructed to define the population of schools or programs to be considered in our ranking. In a very few instances, schools or programs may be excluded, usually because of restricted access, because a program is too young to permit gathering of all the data needed to compute indicators based on multiyear data, or because a program is not fully accredited by the appropriate accrediting agency. Our list of law schools contains virtually all schools in the United States accredited by the American Bar Association. We consult the American Medical Association and the American Osteopathic Association for lists of accredited medical schools, and AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, for accredited master's programs in business located in the United States. For the fields of engineering and education, we use the Survey of Earned Doctorates and other resources to develop our lists of schools. The list of engineering schools is similar but not necessarily identical to the list of engineering schools having programs accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The following list contains the total number of schools or programs that we surveyed in each discipline:

Audiology - 102; Biological Sciences - 249; Business - 425; Chemistry - 194; Clinical Psychology - 210; Computer Science - 151; Criminology - 32; Earth Sciences - 105; Economics - 132; Education - 278; Engineering - 198; English - 148; Fine Arts- 220; Healthcare Management - 68; History - 142; Law - 195; Library Science - 50; Mathematics - 167; Medical Schools - 145; Nursing - 395; Nurse Anesthesia - 102; Nurse-Midwifery - 35; Occupational Therapy - 152; Pharmacy - 101; Physical Therapy - 199; Physician Assistant - 104; Physics - 165; Political Science - 117; Psychology - 370; Public Affairs - 269; Public Health - 36; Rehabilitation Counseling - 98; Social Work - 177; Sociology - 115; Speech-Language Pathology - 247; Veterinary Medicine - 28

The following are the programs, in addition to all the rankings in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine, which are newly ranked in the America's Best Graduate School's 2009 Edition: Audiology; Clinical Psychology; Computer Science; Fine Arts; Mathematics; Occupational Therapy; Pharmacy; Physical Therapy; Physics; Public Affairs; Social Work and Speech-Language Pathology

The rankings in all the other programs have been republished from previous years.

Back to top. 5. Why does U.S. News rank certain disciplines and not others?

Because we cannot survey every area of study, we make our decisions on the disciplines to rank on the basis of how to best serve the greatest number of readers. We look at enrollment figures to determine the most popular areas of study. The disciplines we survey every year are the areas of law, business, medicine, engineering, and education. In these areas we collect peer assessment data as well as objective data on entering students, faculty, finances, and job placement that we use to calculate quality indicators.