College Rankings

Like many other alumni 1), rankings of colleges and universities get my attention, even if our schools' ranks sometimes disappoint. When they disappoint, we of course examine the methodology very critically and find flaws; that is easiest when they are multi-criterion, include “open answer” questions, or both, since the choice of criteria, relative weighting, and scaling of non-quantitative and other open answer questions has no right answer.


One ranking on greenness or environmental friendliness published recently had flaws of composition, scaling and aggregate weighting. I'll add it when I find the references to it.

Origins of S&E Doctorates

In July 2008 the NSF published a study of the baccalaureate origins of PhD earners over the period from 1997 to 2006 (inclusive). The report is clear and well written, I recommend reading it.

One reality which caught my attention was not a result, but an empirically estimated parameter used in the statistical construction of the study: nine years median elapsed time from baccalaureate to doctorate!. In France, the pace would be closer to five years, I expect; one typically earns a Master first, in two years (those who take longer probably won't be accepted in a doctoral program), then works on research and one's thesis for three years.

Another was the very high proportion of foreign-educated baccalaureates earning science and engineering doctorates in the U.S.

Period Total Foreign-prepped Per cent
Non-foreign 2) Unknown Domestic
1997-2001 139 386 39 871 28.6 99 515 14 815 84 700
2002-2006 142 750 47 095 33.0 95 655 13 211 82 444

A previous NSF study, of the 1991-1995 period, noted that:

Universities in the United States and other major Western nations house advanced training facilities and employ distinguished scholars. Consequently, many students from foreign countries come to the United States to obtain graduate S&E training. In 1995, 40 percent of all S&E doctorate recipients from U.S. universities were citizens of foreign countries; a decade earlier, the comparable figure was 27 percent.[3] Given the growing international nature of the scientific and technological community, it is not surprising that over one-third of all recipients of S&E doctorates awarded by U.S. universities had received their baccalaureates from foreign institutions.

Thus, the large number of foreigners in U.S. S&E doctoral programs, foreign-baccalaureate or not, has been high since the 1990s, and was much lower in the 1980s. What is striking is that the number of foreign-prepared doctoral candidates increased (40k to 47k) between 1997-2001 and 2002-2006, whereas the numbers of domestic prepared and domestic+unknown prepared candidates decreased by a couple of thousand.

University of California

As a Cal engineering alum (MS, not PhD nor BS, though), I was pleased to see that Cal is the leading domestic producer of S&E doctors-to-be. What's more, the seven University of California campuses–which are largely autonomous, particularly in admissions–present in the top 50 producers list together prepared over one sixth of the Top 50 Total. The eight Ivy League schools, while mostly much smaller, did almost as well, too, reflecting their high yields 3).

From Table 3 : ranking by gross production (not yield)

Rank Institution S&E doctorates
1 University of California - Berkeley 3 199
10 University of California - Los Angeles 1 674
11 University of California - Davis 1 499
12 University of California - San Diego 1 441
34 University of California - Santa Cruz 892
36 University of California - Santa Barbara 846
38 University of California - Irvine 795
Total U. C. 4) 10 346
2 Cornell University, all campuses (?) 2 536
7 Harvard University 1 775
23 Princeton University 1 135
26 University of Pennsylvania 1 097
28 Yale University 1 087
29 Brown University 1 076
49 Columbia University in the City of N.Y. 690
Total Ivy League (w/o Dartmouth) 9 396
? Dartmouth 5) 609
Total Ivy League 10 005
Pareto Pre-analysis
Ranks S&E Doctorates
1-5 11 840
1-10 20 527
11-20 13 219
21-30 11 092
31-40 8 701
41-50 7 254
Total Top 50 60 793
Break-down added back up
Total U. C. 10 346
Total Ivy League 10 005
Other Top 50 6)
Subtotal Top 50 60 793
Other Domestic institutions 105 182
Domestic institutions 165 975
Foreign institutions 87 836
Unknown institutions 28 280
All Baccalaureate-origin institutions 282 091
1) particularly of top US and international institutions
2) US & unknown
3) ratio of PhD-earners to the number of baccalaureate earners nine years earlier, as a percentage
4) except Modesto
5) from yield table, didn't make the cutoff for production table
6) excluding Dartmouth
college_rankings.txt · Dernière modification: 2010/09/05 12:55 par suitable
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