Social Sciences and Humanities Rankings Methodology

How we rank programs in social sciences and the humanities.


Rankings of doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities are based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to academics in each discipline. Each school offering a doctoral program was sent two surveys (with the exception of criminology, where each school received four). The questionnaires asked respondents to rate the academic quality of the program at each institution on a 5-point scale: outstanding (5), strong (4), good (3), adequate (2), or marginal (1). Individuals who were unfamiliar with a particular school's programs were asked to select "don't know." Scores for each school were determined by computing a trimmed mean (eliminating the two highest and the two lowest responses) of the ratings of all respondents who rated that school; average scores were then sorted in descending order.

Surveys were conducted in the fall of 2008 by Synovate. Questionnaires were sent to department heads and directors of graduate studies (or, alternatively, a senior faculty member who teaches graduate students) at schools that had granted a total of five or more doctorates in each discipline during the five-year period from 2001 through 2005, as indicated by the 2006 Survey of Earned Doctorates. The American Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice provided the list of criminology programs and the respondent names of those surveyed at those programs. The surveys asked about Ph.D. programs in criminology (response rate: 90 percent), economics (34 percent), English (31 percent), history (23 percent), political science (37 percent), psychology (25 percent), and sociology (43 percent).

The American Psychological Association supplied the names of the psychology programs. This list was then narrowed to have each school represented once on the survey—usually by the department of psychology—even for schools that grant a doctoral degree in psychology in multiple departments. Programs in clinical psychology are ranked separately in the health professions section. Specialty rankings are based solely on nominations by department heads and directors of graduate studies at peer schools from the list of schools surveyed. They ranked up to 10 programs in each area offering the best programs in each of those specialty areas. Those with the most votes appear.