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Methodology: Best Social Sciences and Humanities Schools Rankings

Find out how U.S. News ranks graduate programs in social sciences and the humanities. 

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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 – except for criminology, where each school received four.

The questionnaires asked respondents to rate the academic quality of the program at each institution on a five-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 two lowest responses – of the ratings of all respondents who rated that school for the last two surveys; average scores were then sorted in descending order.

[See the Best Social Sciences and Humanities Schools.]

Surveys were conducted in fall 2012 by Ipsos Public Affairs, except in the field of criminology, which were conducted in 2008. 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 2005 through 2009, as indicated by the 2010 "Survey of Earned Doctorates."

The American Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice provided the list of criminology programs. The surveys asked about Ph.D. programs in criminology (response rate: 90 percent), economics (25 percent), English (21 percent), history (19 percent), politi­cal science (30 percent), psychology (16 percent) and sociology (31 percent).

Except in criminology, survey results from fall 2008 and fall 2012 were averaged to compute the scores. This was the first time that U.S. News averaged two years of results for Ph.D. programs in the social sciences and humanities.

In psychology, a school was listed once on the survey even if it grants a doctoral degree in psychology in multiple departments. Programs in clinical psychology are ranked separately in the health section of the Best Graduate Schools rankings.

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 named up to 10 programs in each area. Those with the most votes appear.

The number of schools surveyed in fall 2012 were: economics, 132; English, 156; history, 151; political science, 119; psychology, 246; and sociology, 117. In fall 2008, 36 schools were surveyed for criminology.

Rank Not Published means that U.S. News did calculate a numerical ranking for that school/program, but decided for editorial reasons that since the school/program ranked below the U.S. News cutoff that U.S. News would not publish the ranking for that school/program.

U.S. News will supply schools/programs listed as Rank Not Published with their numerical rankings, if they submit a request following the procedures listed in the Information for School Officials.

Schools/programs marked as Rank Not Published are listed alphabetically. Schools with social sciences and humanities Ph.D. programs, whose ranking is based solely on a 5.0 peer assessment score, are numerically ranked down to a peer assessment score of greater than or equal to 2.0. Schools with scores less than 2.0 or those new to the universe of schools in 2012 are listed in alphabetical order as Rank Not Published.

Schools in the specialty rankings, which are based solely on nominations from school officials, are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received as long as the school/program received seven or more nominations in that specialty area. This means that schools ranked at the bottom of each specialty ranking have received seven nominations.

Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for that school or program. The school or program did not supply U.S. News with enough key statistical data to be numerically ranked by U.S. News.