The University of Pennsylvania Penn Carey Law School will not submit data for the U.S. News & World Report rankings next year, joining a flurry of other top law schools who recently made the same decision.
The school announced the decision in a statement released on Friday. In the statement, Penn Carey Law echoed other criticism of the rankings, describing them as "unnecessarily secretive and contrary to important parts of our mission," including undercounting financial aid expenditures.
"After careful consideration, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School will not submit the U.S. News & World Report institutional survey for this year as part of the ranking process," the statement read. "In the interest of greater transparency, we will make relevant data public so that anyone can see the inputs that make Penn Carey Law a leading law school and how our alumni launch careers in every sector of the legal profession."
The decision comes after Penn Carey Law said it was evaluating its participation in the rankings following announcements from Yale Law School and Harvard Law School that they would stop submitting data to U.S. News. Since Yale and Harvard's announcements, a number of top law schools have followed suit, including Columbia University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.
Other schools in the U.S. News top 14, including the law schools of Cornell University – recently ranked No. 12 — and the University of Chicago — ranked No. 3 — have said that they will stick with participating in the rankings.
"Withdrawal from the rankings process will not have the desired impact that many assume that it will have,” Cornell Law School Dean Jens Ohlin wrote in a statement to the Cornell Daily Sun.
Schools who decline to participate in their rankings by submitting their data will still be ranked in the U.S. News report, but only based on publicly available data. U.S. News evaluates schools based on several different factors, including graduation rates, academic reputation, and financial resources, according to their website.
The recent boycotts follow several years of multiple law schools voicing their concerns to the U.S. News and the U.S. News Law Dean's Advisory Board. The company's rankings have been subject to increased scrutiny in recent years regarding their validity and weight. In September, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said he believes that systems of ranking colleges based on prestige are “a joke.”
Colin Diver, who served as Penn Carey Law dean from 1989 to 1999, said that U.S. News began annual rankings of law schools in 1990, his second year as dean. Over time, he became opposed to the U.S. News rankings. He told the DP that he visited the headquarters of U.S. News during his deanship to echo his concerns with their algorithm, but they did not make any changes.
"[The rankings] are in some way a feeder of hyper-consumerism and commercialism and competition in higher education," Diver said, citing a book he published on the rankings industry.
Scrutiny of the U.S. News rankings increased this year after Columbia University confirmed in September that they submitted incorrect data in two categories — causing the University to skip the annual rankings and fall from the second spot to No. 18.
On the 2023 U.S. News list, Penn Carey Law ranked No. 6 of all law schools in the United States — the highest ranking the school has achieved to date and the first time that Penn Carey Law has been the sole occupant of the sixth-place spot on the U.S. News list.
Many of Penn Carey Law's specialty programs also earned a boost in the rankings, including Criminal Law & Procedure, which climbed from No. 7 on last year's list to No. 3. The school also ranked No. 5 in Business/Corporate Law, and No. 7 in Contracts/Commercial Law.