By Menachem Wecker, US News and World Report
As if sticking to new year's resolutions, graduate schools slimmed down in a variety of ways in 2011 and early 2012. From slicing curricula in half to increasing online or blended programs, many universities are trimming weight, in part to fight concerns about rising tuition costs.
Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management announced it will scale back its two-year M.B.A. program and increase enrollment in its one-year M.B.A. offering. This effort is part of a larger trend of business schools adding fast-track M.B.A. programs. Law schools are also creatively tackling rising costs, with some developing accelerated J.D. programs that help students graduate in two rather than three years.
US News's 2013 rankings of Best Graduate Schools, released today, are a tool to help prospective graduate students better understand the graduate school landscape and to identify programs that would be good fits. The rankings highlight the top programs in business, law, medicine, engineering, and education, among other specialties.
One change in the methodology this year is the introduction of the following factors in the part-time M.B.A. rankings, in addition to peer assessments from b-school deans and program directors: the percentage of graduate business students in a school that is part time, as well as entering part-time students' average undergraduate GPA, average GMAT score, and average months of work experience.
Business: After dropping below Stanford University last year, Harvard University is now tied with Stanford at the top of the business school rankings. Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management fell from a third-place tie last year to a fourth-place tie this year with Northwestern'sKellogg School and University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Meanwhile, University of Notre Dame was among the most improved schools in the rankings, moving from a three-way tie for 37th into a five-way tie for 25th.
In the part-time M.B.A. rankings, Kellogg, previously tied for first with Chicago's Booth School, took sole possession of first this year. Booth is now tied for second with the Haas School of Business at University of California—Berkeley, which improved from third. Georgetown University (which moved from an eight-way tie last year for 21st to 14th) was among the most improved, and some of the largest drops were from Washington University in St. Louis (from 10th to a four-way tie for 21st) and University of Wisconsin—Madison (from a four-way tie for 11th to a four-way tie for 21st).
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Law: No major changes occurred atop the Best Law Schools rankings, referred to in the legal community as the top 14 (T14). Yale University remained No. 1, with Stanford University moving from 3rd to 2nd and Harvard University dropping from 2nd to 3rd. University of Washington rose from a five-way tie for 30th to a two-way tie for 20th, and Arizona State University soared from a two-way tie for 40th to a three-way tie for 26th.
Georgetown University remained the top part-time J.D. program. George Washington University improved from third to second, and Brooklyn Law Schoolclimbed from a two-way tie for fifth to third. Several schools rose more than 10 slots, including two programs that had previously tied for 30th—with Hofstra University moving to a five-way tie for 13th, and Loyola Marymount University improving to 18th—and University of the Pacific (from a two-way tie for 38th to a four-way tie for 23rd). Loyola University Chicago had one of the biggest drops (from a two-way tie for 16th to a two-way tie for 33rd).
Medicine: While Harvard University maintained its top position in the medical research rankings, Johns Hopkins University moved up a slot from third to share second with University of Pennsylvania this year. There were no major shifts in the top 10 list, but Duke University fell from a four-way tie for 5th to 9th, and Columbia University moved up from a two-way tie for 10th to 8th.
In the primary care rankings, the University of Washington and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill maintained the top two spots, respectively. Within the top 10, the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor rose from a four-way tie for 20th to a two-way tie for 8th with University of Minnesota. The biggest movement in the top 50 was from Dartmouth Medical School, which climbed 29 spots to a 38th place tie with Tufts University.
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Engineering: Massachusetts Institute of Technology retained its spot as the top ranked engineering program. Some of the movements in the top 10 came fromCalifornia Institute of Technology (from 7th to a two-way tie for 5th with University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign) and Purdue University—West Lafayette, which moved from a two-way tie for 11th into a two-way tie for 10th with Cornell University. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—New Brunswickhad the biggest jump within the top 50, climbing nine slots to a five-way tie for 49th.
Education: In the education program rankings, Vanderbilt University reclaimed the top spot. Notable changes in the top 10 include Johns Hopkins University—which leapt from a two-way tie for 18th to a two-way tie for 6th with University of California—Los Angeles—and University of Pennsylvania, which climbed from a two-way tie for 12th to a three-way tie for 9th with Northwestern University and University of Wisconsin—Madison. Within the top 50, two schools, University of Florida and University of Nebraska—Lincoln, rose more than 15 slots to a three-way tie for 34th.
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CORRECTION: The headline of this article was originally titled, "The Best Law Schools: US News And World Report List." It has been corrected to "The Best Graduate Schools: US News And World Report List."