UNM has 26 doctoral programs in the long-awaited report from the National Research Council, "A Data-based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States," released today. Baseline data for the report, which updates a similar study published in 1995, were collected in 2005-06. The report evaluates more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities nationwide.
"The Council worked very hard to minimize the effect of ‘mere reputation' in the report's program rankings" said Provost Suzanne Ortega, who served on the 16-member NRC steering committee that oversaw the study.
Graduate Dean Amy Wohlert, who supervised UNM's participation in the project, agrees that the report's real utility lies in the twenty separate elements that make up its baseline data.
"Each participating program can compare its performance in very specific ways with similar programs across the country, to see where they're doing well and where they might improve," she said.
In addition to statistically determined "illustrated ranges" of program rankings, the report's assessments also include separate analysis of program strengths in the areas of research activity, student outcomes, and diversity. "You would expect our programs to be diverse," said Ortega, "and the report confirms it. But it also shows that research activity and student outcomes in many of our programs exceed the scores of the mere program rankings. That also confirms what we've long known – we do good work here."
American Studies, Linguistics, Biology and Anthropology lead the list of UNM programs highly rated by the report's complex methodology.
"No matter how much we eschew the whole idea of ‘rankings,' it's always nice to have one's historic strengths confirmed in a rigorous study like this," said Ortega. The full report and data tables are available online at National Research Council Doctoral Programs. Tutorials that demonstrate how to use the spreadsheets to compare programs can be found at the same web address.
The NRC report also looks at trends in U.S. doctoral education. Nationwide the number of students enrolled in graduate level engineering courses has increased by four percent and in the physical sciences by nine percent since the last report released in 1995. The percentage of students enrolled in the social sciences has declined by five percent and the humanities by 12 percent.
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