Fortunately, the news was good — on September 27, the day before the NRC released full details of its new rankings, graduate dean Andrew Szeri conducted overview briefings for academic administrators.
Fortunately, the news was good — on September 27, the day before the NRC released full details of its new rankings, graduate dean Andrew Szeri conducted overview briefings for academic administrators. Photo: Dick Cortén

The first detailed survey since 1995 of doctoral programs at the nation’s research universities shows that the University of California, Berkeley, continues to have the largest number of highly ranked graduate programs in the country.

The survey, released today (Tuesday, Sept. 28) by the National Research Council (NRC), did not assign a single rank to any program, but rather, placed programs within a range, such as between second and sixth place in their discipline. Based on the NRC’s statistical analysis, 48 of UC Berkeley’s 52 ranked Ph.D. programs placed within a range that included the top 10, compared to 46 of 52 programs for Harvard University, which came in second, and 40 of 59 programs for UCLA, in third place.

Equally impressive was UC Berkeley’s standing among the nation’s very best graduate programs. UC Berkeley had 40 programs ranked within a range that extends into the top 5, compared to 41 at Harvard and 30 at Stanford University. Fourteen UC Berkeley programs were assigned an upper range of first place, compared with 20 at Harvard, 11 at Stanford, and 10 each at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“We are very proud of our standing, which is validated by our own surveys showing that students come to UC Berkeley for Ph.D.s primarily because of the distinction of our programs and faculty and the public nature of our mission,” said Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. “In a recent faculty survey, professors said the quality of the graduate students was the single most important factor in their job satisfaction here. Our faculty and graduate students work together to support our public mission of teaching, research and scholarship for the continued betterment of society. This key symbiosis between our faculty and graduate students makes us distinctive and is at the heart of Berkeley’s teaching and research excellence.”

Cheerful at the news
The sessions were not without contention about ranking methods and how individual programs came out, but overall the mood was cheerful. Enjoying one of the frequent moments of levity here are, from left, economics chair Gérard Roland, history chair Mary Elizabeth Berry, Classics and comparative literature chair Leslie Kurke, L&S arts and humanities dean Janet Broughton, sociology chair Kim Voss (just behind Broughton), academic planning and facilities vice provost Catherine Koshland, and academic affairs and faculty welfare vice provost Sheldon Zedeck.) Photo: Dick Cortén
Chemistry professor Joseph Cerny
Chemistry professor Joseph Cerny took a characteristically conscientious analytical approach to the 2010 data, much as he did with the NRC's last study results, which came out in 1995, while he was dean of the Graduate Division. In that more finite assessment, UC Berkeley placed in the top ten in 35 of 36 fields. (Cerny's perspective is not only that of a faculty member and former dean; he is also a grad alumnus, having earned his nuclear chemistry Ph.D. here in 1961.) Photo: Dick Cortén

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