In yet another set of rankings, some of Penn's graduate schools have slipped — but the Penn community believes that there is more to a good graduate program than a number.
Recently, U.S. News & World Report released its annual graduate school rankings for 2016.
Although Penn's School of Nursing snagged the No. 1 spot, the Wharton School dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 among MBA programs, Perelman School of Medicine dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 among top medical schools for research and the Graduate School of Education dropped from No. 5 to No. 7. Penn Law School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science maintained their rankings at No. 7 and No. 19, respectively.
The rankings are calculated by evaluating several factors, including standardized test scores of newly enrolled students as well as employment success of recent graduates. Additional criteria vary across disciplines — for example, the MBA rankings take into account average starting salaries and bonuses of employed graduates, while currently practicing lawyers and judges assess the law schools.
Although the rankings are designed to help prospective students in their graduate school search, some students at the Graduate School of Education said that rankings didn’t matter when they applied.
“I don’t think ranking is that important to many of us,” GSE doctoral candidate Lana Xu said. “If it’s still in the top 10, or even in the top 15, I’m not really disappointed.”
Xu added that the rankings for graduate education programs should consider more subjective factors, such as the school’s success in helping the community.
“I really do care about the public good a school can create,” she said.
GSE student Sarah Deak agreed that she finds rankings to be relatively unimportant.
“That wasn’t really something that I considered when coming to Penn and coming to the GSE program,” she said. “It was that personal experience that made a difference for me.”
Wharton MBA student Abhay Nayak also said that rankings are not important because they do not reflect everything that makes Wharton graduate students successful.
“As students we’re not really that worried about it because we know that these rankings always have very objective criteria,” he said. “That doesn’t really affect us that much.”
Specifically, he said that measuring employment success fails to take into account graduates who do not immediately take jobs, preferring to pursue entrepreneurial ventures.
However, Nayak added that the rankings' significance changes based on whether or not Wharton has the coveted No. 1 spot among business schools, compared to rivals Harvard and Stanford.
“If we’re number one and they’re number three, we’ll be forwarding that to every one of our friends outside of school,” he said. “But if we’re number three and they’re number one, we’ll downplay the importance of these rankings.”
Penn Medicine Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Susan Phillips affirmed that rankings are not necessarily important, even to the administration.
“The schools in the top five represent the very best preparation for our nation’s future doctors, and a very narrow scoring margin separates the schools from one another," she said in an email.
Additional information about the rankings can be found on U.S. News & World Report’s website.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.