What's new for the upcoming 2011 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools? For the first time, U.S. News has separate peer assessment survey instruments that use a five-point scale for part-time law J.D. programs and part-time M.B.A. programs. As a result, U.S. News is contemplating significant methodology changes in both of these popular rankings. The 2011 edition of the rankings will be published in April 2010.
What will these changes mean for the upcoming part-time law J.D. program rankings?
This fall, we have asked law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty members to rate 99 part-time J.D. programs on a scale from marginal (1) to outstanding (5). Those respondents who do not know enough about a law school's part-time J.D. program to evaluate it fairly are asked to mark "don't know." A part-time law J.D. program's peer assessment score will now be based on the average of all the respondents who rated it.
In addition to having a peer score on a 5.0 scale, U.S. News is contemplating including other factors in the upcoming part-time law J.D. program rankings. Additional ranking variables under consideration include:
- 2009 entering part-time J.D. students' LSAT scores
- 2009 entering part-time J.D. students' undergraduate grade point averages
- 2009 acceptance rate for those entering a part-time J.D. program
- An indicator to measure to what degree a part-time program has both rich academic offerings and other law school activities for its students.
Implementing a more sophisticated methodology will enable U.S. News to rank all law schools with part-time J.D. programs.
U .S. News published its first-ever rankings of 87 part-time J.D. programs at American Bar Association-accredited law schools in April 2009. U.S. News defined a part-time J.D. program as a law school that has a separate admissions process for part-time students and has at least 20 part-time J.D. students. Those part-time J.D. program rankings were based solely on a fall 2008 peer assessment that asked academics at each law school to choose up to 15 "law schools with outstanding part-time law J.D. programs." Programs were ranked based on the number of part-time J.D. program votes they received, sorted in descending order. Those with a statistically insignificant number of votes were listed as unranked.
What will these changes mean for the upcoming part-time M.B.A. program rankings?
This fall, we have asked business school deans and directors of accredited master's programs at 314 part-time M.B.A. programs to rate each part-time M.B.A. programs on a scale from "marginal" (1) to "outstanding" (5). Those respondents who do not know enough about a school's part-time M.B.A. programs to evaluate it fairly have been asked to mark "don't know." Each part-time M.B.A. program will now have a peer assessment score based on the average of all the respondents who rated it on a 5.0 scale. U.S. News will publish rankings for all part-time M.B.A. programs that have an average peer assessment score of 2.5 or higher. As a result of this new methodology, U.S. News will be publishing numerical rankings for far more part-time M.B.A. programs than we have previously.
The most recent part-time M.B.A. programs rankings, published in April 2009, were based solely on ratings by business school deans and directors of accredited master's programs who were asked to nominate up to 10 programs for excellence. The 32 part-time M.B.A. programs receiving the most votes were ranked.
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