In less than a month, on March 12, 2013, U.S. News will publish the 2014 edition of the Best Graduate Schools rankings on usnews.com.
Highlights of the rankings will be published in the Best Graduate Schools 2014 printed guidebook, on sale April 9, 2013. The most comprehensive version of the upcoming Best Graduate Schools, including all the extended rankings and complete data, will be available online only through the subscription-based U.S. News Graduate School Compass.
Once again, we will have new rankings in the five largest professional graduate school disciplines: business, law, education, engineering, and medicine, as well as the various specialties associated with each of those five broad disciplines.
In the 2014 edition, we made a change in the law school rankings methodology used to compute placement rates for 2011 J.D. graduates employed at graduation and nine months after graduation. We also changed how we computed admissions selectivity in the full-time and part-time MBA rankings.
All the other rankings methodologies remain unchanged from the 2013 edition. Detailed explanations of all the methodologies will be available online on March 12.
In addition to the five main professional disciplines ranked annually, we also periodically rank graduate programs in science, social sciences and humanities, health, and many other areas based solely on the ratings of academic experts.
For the 2014 edition, new peer assessment surveys were conducted and new rankings will be published online for social sciences and humanities Ph.D. programs in economics, English, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, as well as for master's programs in library and information studies.
Rankings of graduate health fields (such as nursing and physician assistant studies), Ph.D. programs in science, and master's degree programs in public affairs and fine arts are based on earlier surveys and will be republished. The year that the ranking was first published appears at the top of each list.
Prospective students can use the Best Graduate Schools rankings and other data to make comparisons of concrete factors such as student-faculty ratios; research expenditures; acceptance rates; undergraduate grade point averages; average scores on the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT; and placement success upon graduation.
However, many other factors that cannot be measured should also be included in the decision, such as the course offerings and department culture, total cost of obtaining the degree, the advising or mentoring students can expect to receive, and the location and campus life.
As always, U.S. News advises students to use the rankings to supplement—not substitute—careful thought. The rankings should only be used as one tool to choose the right graduate school or program—not as the only factor driving the final choice.