A school's numerical rank tells you how many schools garner a higher score on the U.S. News ranking model. Schools that have the same score are listed alphabetically.
For example, suppose that a single school scores higher than all others on the U.S. News ranking model. It then has Rank 1. Now suppose that three schools are tied with the second-highest score. Each of those three schools will have Rank 2. Then the next-highest-scoring school will have Rank 5.
The fifth-ranked school achieves a third-highest score, but because of the three-way tie among schools achieving the second-highest score, there are four schools that rank higher, so the third-highest-scoring school has Rank 5, not Rank 3. In this example, no school has a rank of 3 or 4.
One way of getting at the quality of a graduate program is to survey the people in the best position to have an informed opinion—academics who administer and teach in these programs and people who hire or work directly with graduates of these programs.
For all disciplines we rank, we surveyed deans or program directors as well as department chairs or faculty members and asked them to rate the quality of each program in their field on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). If the respondent was unfamiliar with any program, he or she had the option of indicating "don't know."
A second survey was sent out to practitioners in the fields of business, education, engineering, law, and medicine. These people—recruiters of recent graduates from business or engineering schools; school superintendents; professionals in legal fields, including law firm hiring partners, judges, and state attorneys general; and directors of medical residency programs—were surveyed using the same survey format (a five-point Likert scale) used with academics.
All of this year's peer assessment surveys for the rankings that say "ranked in 2013" were conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.
Input measures of academic quality reflect the relative performance of factors brought to the graduate education process. These factors include the academic preparation of the entering class measured by the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT test, student-to-faculty ratios, and research funding.
Output measures of academic quality are measures we use to gauge how well an institution succeeds in its mission of preparing its graduates for professional life. These measures include job placement rates for law school and MBA graduates, starting salaries for MBA program graduates, and bar passage rates for law school graduates.
Schools that achieve the same score in our ranking model are published with the same numerical rank. This means that, taking into account all the factors considered in the ranking model, tied schools are comparable overall.
However, tied schools may vary in their performance on certain individual factors that go into determining overall rank. Look at the detail provided in our table to see how tied schools perform on individual factors, especially those of importance to you. For example, tied schools may show differences in research expenditures or student-to-faculty ratios.
Schools that are tied are listed in alphabetical order.
Most of the information is reported to us directly by the schools. Each year, U.S. News sends an extensive questionnaire to each school for each of the disciplines of business, education, engineering, law, and medicine.
The statistical data collection for the 2014 Best Graduate Schools rankings was done in fall 2012 and early 2013. When the surveys are returned, U.S. News analyzes the data for errors, large changes, or inconsistencies. Errors and anomalies are resolved in concert with the school, which then verifies data stored in our database.
Where possible, we cross check data with other sources.