Key Changes in How the 2022 Best Graduate Schools Rankings Were Calculated

Today marks the release of the 2022 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings. For more than 30 years, U.S. News has published new annual rankings and data on various graduate schools and programs to help prospective students and their families make the important — and costly — decisions about where to attend school for business, education, engineering, law, medical, nursing and many other master’s, Ph.D. and professional doctorate programs.

In addition, this year U.S. News published fresh rankings for graduate programs in public affairs and specialties in that field; public health schools and programs; and library and information studies and specialties in that field. There are also new doctoral program rankings in economics, English, history, sociology, political science and criminology/criminal justice. Most of these rankings, which are based solely on academic reputation, are produced only once every four years.

New this year, U.S. News made some important changes to how different rankings were calculated and introduced new standalone rankings within disciplines. Below are highlights, grouped by discipline. For a more thorough explanation, see About the Best Graduate Schools Rankings and review each methodology of interest.

Nursing

Added a health professionals ranking indicator for nursing master’s programs: U.S. News has been collecting health care professional ratings for three years and determined for the 2022 edition there were, for the first time, enough cumulative responses to be a valid measure of expert opinion. This was added to the Best Nursing Schools: Master’s programs ranking methodology and weighted at 10%. As a result, U.S. News lowered the weight of the nursing master’s programs peer assessment score from 40% to 30%. No other weights were changed.

Added specialties for Doctor of Nursing Practice programs: For the first time, these three new Best Nursing Schools: Doctor of Nursing Practice specialties were ranked: pediatric, acute care; pediatric, primary care; and psychiatric / mental health, across the lifespan.

Medicine

Changed research indicators for research medical schools: U.S. News calculated research activity in the Best Medical Schools for Research rankings based solely on the total dollar amount of federal grants and contracts (direct costs) recorded at each medical school and its affiliates, plus total federal grants and contracts (facilities and administrative costs) at medical schools and their affiliates using values.

The two research-specific ranking indicators are total federal research activity (25% of the ranking) and average federal research per faculty member (15% of the ranking). Previously, both of the research indicators were based solely on National Institutes of Health grants. No weights were changed in this ranking.

Added a new practicing in primary care indicator for primary care medical schools: U.S. News added a new indicator — medical school graduates practicing in primary care specialties — to the Best Medical Schools for Primary Care ranking methodology, weighted at 30%. This indicator measures the proportion of a medical school’s 2012-2014 graduates who are practicing patient care in a primary care specialty as of 2020.

U.S. News worked with the Robert Graham Center, a division of the American Academy of Family Physicians, as the data provider. As a result, the previous primary care ranking indicator — the percentage of a school’s M.D. or D.O. graduates entering primary care residencies in the fields of family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine averaged over 2018, 2019 and 2020 — was reduced in weight from 30% to 10%. Also, the peer assessment ranking indicator weight was reduced from 25% to 15%.

Created new standalone medical school rankings: U.S. News added the following brand new, standalone medical school rankings, with data provided by the Robert Graham Center.

Medical Schools With Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care Fields: U.S. News ranked medical schools based on the percentage of each school’s 2012-2014 medical and osteopathic graduates practicing direct patient care in primary care fields. Primary care specialties include family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics and pediatric internal medicine.

Most Diverse Medical Schools: Each medical school’s diversity ranking is based on the percentage of the total medical and osteopathic school enrollment in fall 2020 as reported to U.S. New in fall 2020 and early 2021 composed of underrepresented minority students (Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander) and how that percentage compares with state and national race and ethnic group proportions of underrepresented minorities.

Medical Schools With Most Graduates Practicing Medicine in Rural Areas: U.S. News ranked medical schools based on the percentage of each school’s 2012-2014 medical and osteopathic graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas of the U.S. Rural areas are defined using the USDA Rural-Urban Continuum Codes classification.

Medical Schools With Most Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas: U.S. News ranked medical schools based on the percentage of each school’s 2012-2014 medical and osteopathic graduates who practice direct patient care in medically underserved areas, also known as Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Law

Added law school graduate indebtedness to overall law school rankings: For the first time, U.S. News added the graduate indebtedness of J.D. graduates to the overall Best Law Schools rankings, based on graduates in 2019-2020. Two indicators that were not previously used were added: the average debt incurred obtaining a J.D. at graduation (weighted at 3%) and percent of law school graduates incurring J.D. law school debt (weighted at 2%).

Added new library resources and operations indicators in overall law school rankings: In the overall Best Law Schools rankings, the library resources and operations indicator previously had a weight of 0.75% in the ranking methodology; now, it has a total weight of 1.75%. Replacing the previous ranking indicator, U.S. News created seven new ranking indicators using data for fiscal year 2019-2020, each weighted 0.25%. The new indicators are:

— Number of hours per day law students have access to library study space during regular semester and exam schedules.

— Number of hours per week law students have access to real-time reference/research/library services during the regular semester schedule.

— Total number of licensed or owned digital/electronic databases available to law students as members of the larger college or university.

— Total number of titles available to law students.

— Ratio of full-time-equivalent professional and paraprofessional library staff to full-time-equivalent law students.

— Ratio of the number of seats with library spaces to full-time-equivalent law students.

— Ratio of the total number of presentations by library staff to full-time-equivalent law students.

Changed other methodology weights in overall law school rankings: As a result of adding the above law school ranking indicators, U.S. News changed the weights of other existing indicators: the average spending on instruction, library and supporting services (now weighted at 9% of the overall ranking; previously 9.75%); the average spending on all other items, including financial aid (1%; previously 1.5%); student-faculty ratio (2%; previously 3%): median LSAT/GRE score (11.25%; previously 12.5%); median undergraduate GPA (8.75%; previously 10%); bar passage rate (2.25%; previously 2.0%); and acceptance rate (1%; previously 2.5%).

Changed cost-of-living adjustment factor in overall law school rankings: As part of the faculty resources calculation for instruction, library and supporting services, U.S. News once again adjusted for cost of living in law school budget data. But this year, U.S. News replaced Runzheimer indexes with publicly available Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities index data of metropolitan statistical areas.

Business

Changed full-time MBA ranking eligibility: To receive a numeric rank or ranking range in the Best Business Schools rankings, a program needed to have campus-based offerings, provided U.S. News enough statistical data for use in the rankings and reported at least 50% of its 2020 graduating class seeking employment. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. News used a modified requirement this year: only 10 graduates from the 2020 graduating class needed to be seeking employment for a school to be rank-eligible, which was reduced from 20 in the previous editions.

There were also five full-time MBA programs that were ranked in the 2022 edition based on their data submitted for the 2021 edition because those programs did not submit a statistical survey with 2020 data.

Changed part-time MBA ranking eligibility: To be eligible for the current part-time ranking, an MBA program needed to be accredited by AACSB International in summer 2020 and have reported fall 2020 part-time MBA program enrollment of 10 or more students (down from 20 previously), based on the statistical data the MBA program reported to U.S. News in fall 2020 and early 2021. This change in ranking eligibility enrollment was made due to enrollment volatility at part-time MBA programs caused by COVID-19.

Changed threshold for percent submitting GMAT and GRE scores in the full-time and part-time MBA rankings: Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the fall 2020 admissions process and resulted in fewer students submitting scores, programs that reported that fewer than 25% of their fall 2020 entering students submitted GRE and GMAT scores (down from a 50% threshold previously) received less credit for those test scores in the rankings.

Engineering and Education

Changed threshold for percent submitting GRE scores in the engineering and education rankings: As with the business school rankings, due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic disrupting fall 2020 admissions, graduate engineering and education programs that reported that fewer than 25% of their fall 2020 entering students submitted GRE scores (down from a 50% threshold previously) received less credit for those test scores in the Best Engineering Schools and Best Education Schools rankings.

More from U.S. News

U.S. News Releases 2022 Best Graduate Schools Rankings

What Graduate School Is and Who Should Consider Attending

45 Graduate Degree Jobs That Can Pay More Than $100K

Key Changes in How the 2022 Best Graduate Schools Rankings Were Calculated originally appeared on usnews.com

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