Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation
Share |
The Graduate School

G-1 Communications Building
Box 353770
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770

Phone: 206.543.5900
Fax: 206.685.3234

NRC Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs

38 University of Washington doctoral programs rated highly on national assessment

SEATTLE, Washington — Seventeen of the University of Washington’s doctoral programs were very highly rated, and 21 programs were highly rated among their peers at major universities across the country in an assessment by the National Research Council, according to the UW Graduate School’s analysis of the rankings. The NRC evaluated 5,000 doctoral programs from 212 universities nationwide – including 62 from the UW – and released revised results in late April.

The assessment, according to the NRC, is designed to help universities evaluate and improve the quality of their programs and to provide prospective students with information on the nation's doctoral programs. The NRC rankings do not assign numbers or ratings to individual programs, or to universities as a whole. The rankings – based on information including faculty research, degree completion rates, entrance exam scores and faculty and student diversity – place each program within a range to indicate how it compares to like programs at other universities. The NRC also asked faculty at research universities nationwide to identify the characteristics of excellent doctoral programs. All information for the assessment was gathered in 2006, and the report’s release has been delayed several times.

The NRC study did not evaluate the UW’s excellent professional and graduate programs in law (JD), dentistry (DDS), medicine (MD), pharmacy (Pharm.D.), social work, business or education. “Although the data were gathered four years ago, the assessment gives us a baseline to understand the quality of the University of Washington’s doctoral programs and how we compare to others across the country,” said Gerald J. Baldasty, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “The assessment illustrates the excellence of our larger programs in math and science such as Applied Mathematics, Forest Resources and Nursing, and notes the quality of some of our smaller programs, like Drama.”

“Although the data were gathered four years ago, the assessment gives us a baseline to understand the quality of the University of Washington’s doctoral programs and how we compare to others across the country,” said Gerald J. Baldasty, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “The assessment illustrates the excellence of our larger programs in math and science such as Applied Mathematics, Forest Resources and Nursing, and notes the quality of some of our smaller programs, like Drama.”

Using the NRC’s data, the Graduate School sorted the UW’s top programs into two tiers based on overall rankings. Tier one encompasses the very highly rated programs, those that were consistently rated as high as the top 10 percent of programs nationwide. Tier two includes programs that were highly rated, meaning they were rated as high as the top 20 percent of programs nationwide.

The UW’s very highly rated doctoral programs include:

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Astronomy
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Bioengineering
  • Biostatistics
  • Chemistry
  • Epidemiology
  • Forest Resources
  • Genome Sciences
  • Geological Sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Nursing
  • Physiology and Biophysics
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

The UW’s highly rated doctoral programs include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science & Engineering
  • Drama
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geography
  • Geophysics
  • Health Services
  • History
  • Immunology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Neurobiology and Behavior
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Oceanography
  • Pathobiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy-Medicinal Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Zoology

“This is an extremely impressive report card because more than half of the UW programs evaluated can be considered among the top 20 percent of programs. We are proud to be in the relatively small group of public universities that can claim to have so many outstanding programs,” Baldasty said.

The rankings also evaluated individual areas including faculty research, student support and diversity.

The NRC rankings reflect the exceptional research efforts that are the hallmark of the UW. In 2005-06, the UW received $990 million in research dollars, and by 2009-10 that number had climbed to $1.32 billion. Each year since 1974, the UW has received more federal research funding than any other American public university.

When measured for faculty research, Astronomy, Atmospheric Sciences, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Microbiology and Statistics and were very highly rated. The highly rated programs in research were Applied Mathematics, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Biochemistry, Biostatistics, Drama, Genome Sciences, History, Immunology, Nursing, Nutritional Science, Pharmacology, Pharmacy-Medicinal Chemistry and Political Science.

“These rankings underscore the tremendous vitality and impressive range of faculty research at the University of Washington. Many people know of the University’s work in health sciences, and this assessment shows additional real strength in the arts, social sciences and natural sciences,” Baldasty said.

Additionally, the NRC rankings recognized Biostatistics, Classics, Drama, Epidemiology, Health Services, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science and Statistics for providing student support, while Art History Bioengineering, Botany, Health Services, Industrial Engineering, Music, Pathobiology and Philosophy were highly ranked for their student diversity. Since 2006, the University has seen a jump the number of doctoral students who are underrepresented minorities (defined as African Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Americans). In 2006, 7.6 percent of the UW’s doctoral students were underrepresented minorities. By 2009, that number had increased to 9.9 percent.

Aquatics and Fisheries, Applied Mathematics, Astronomy, Atmospheric Sciences, Nutritional Sciences and Statistics were in the top five of similar programs for the number of faculty citations to publications and the percentage of interdisciplinary faculty on their staffs. In 1995, the last time the NRC issued rankings of doctoral programs, 22 of the UW’s doctoral programs were ranked highly.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Lowry at elowry@uw.edu or 206.685.6793.


About the UW Graduate School

The Graduate School supports, advances and champions graduate education throughout the University of Washington and the greater community. The Graduate School creates endowments and oversees graduate fellowships and awards totaling approximately $11 million a year. The school also promotes minority graduate student recruitment and retention through GO-MAP and provides the infrastructure the UW needs to admit graduate students and manage their educational progress to graduation. In addition, the Graduate School provides professional development for graduate students and faculty members and reviews graduate degree programs to ensure that the UW continues to offer innovative, high quality graduate education.

www.grad.washington.edu


National Research Council Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs

The National Research Council conducted an assessment of research doctorate programs in 2006-07 which included 63 UW doctoral programs and two emerging UW fields. The purposes of the assessment are to help universities improve their doctoral programs through benchmarking; expand the talent pool through accessible information about doctoral programs to potential doctoral students; and benefit the nation's research capacity by improving the quality of doctoral programs and their students.

The current study is a marked departure from the earlier studies published in 1982 and 1995. Data were gathered in 2006 and 2007 via surveys to universities, programs, faculty, and, in a few fields, students. The surveys collected data on a large number of quantitative variables related to: scholarly productivity of program faculty, effectiveness of doctoral education, research resources, demographic characteristics of students and faculty, resources available to doctoral students, and characteristics of the doctoral program. These data, collected under uniform definitions, will be used to construct a large web-resident database for 62 fields of study (the prior assessment included 41 fields), permitting comparisons of programs within a university and across universities. The database will be constructed so that it can be updated regularly. These data will be available to any user, and should make it possible to do specific comparisons with other programs. In principle, the data will provide benchmarks about how UW's research doctorate programs compare with one another and with those at peer institutions. The report and database are expected to be released Sept. 28.

 


NRC News & Announcements

The final NRC report, long delayed, is now expected to be released Sept. 28.

A Data Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs
Presentation by Charlotte Kuh on the changes to the report at the Association of Graduate Schools meeting in September.

A Data Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs
presentation by Charlotte Kuh on the changes to the report at the 2010 CGS New Deans Institute and Summer Workshop

Doctoral-Program Rankings, Delayed Years, May Be Merely a Historical Record
by David Glenn
from The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 13, 2010

"Explaining the National Research Council's PhD Program Assessment Methodology:
A Guide for the University of Washington"

by William Zumeta

The NRC Methodology Report was released in July, 2009

 

 


The Graduate School
G-1 Communications  |  Box 353770  |  Seattle, Washington 98195-3770
Phone: (206) 543.5900  |  Fax: (206) 685-3234