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Penn State Statistics Placed Among Best Programs in the Nation According to National Research Council

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The National Research Council (NRC) recently released its long-awaited report on the quality of research doctorate programs in the U.S. The report confirmed that Penn State has a wealth of outstanding programs that are among the very best in the nation.

The study, which assessed more than 5,000 doctoral programs in more than 60 fields at 212 universities, collected a large quantity of data for 20 different characteristics related to research activity of faculty, student support and outcomes, and the diversity of the academic environment. It is the first comprehensive study by the NRC since 1995. The rankings are released approximately once each decade and during this study, the methodology used by the NRC changed.

Rather than assign a unique rank to each doctoral program, the NRC opted to position individual programs within a range of quality. Among Penn State's top ranked programs are: anthropology, which was ranked between 1 and 2 in a field of 82, and puts it in the company of Duke (ranked 1-3), Harvard (2-5) and Stanford (3-9); plant biology, ranked 1-3 in a field of 116, along with UC-Berkeley (1-6) and Cornell (1-8); and Kinesiology, 1-5 of 41, along with UNC-Chapel Hill (1-8), University of Massachusetts (1-6), University of Illinois (1-9), and the University of Connecticut (1-8).
The Spanish program at Penn State is ranked 1-7 of 60, along with Yale (1-4), University of California-Davis (1-6), and Brown (1-7); and nutrition is ranked 1-10 of 44, along with Wisconsin (1-7), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1-7), Tufts (1-9) and UC-Berkeley (1-10).

In the Eberly College of Science, astronomy/astrophysics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and statistics each had exemplar ratings that placed them among the best programs in the nation. A number of additional Penn State doctoral programs have remained highly ranked, including several programs in the colleges of Engineering (industrial engineering, environmental engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science and engineering); Earth and Mineral Sciences (geosciences, meteorology, materials science and engineering, and geography); and in the College of the Liberal Arts (sociology). To see a full list of Penn State's top-ranked programs, visit http://live.psu.edu/fullimg/userpics/10047/NRC_rankings.pdf online.
"It's exciting to see so many doctoral programs at the top and so strong nationally, based on these criteria," said Rodney Erickson, executive vice president and provost at Penn State. "There are so many programs that have made great strides since the last evaluation, such as those in physics, statistics and biology. We really do have a lot to be proud of, and I know this information will be used across the University as a measure for evaluating and improving our offerings."

In addition to top ranges of rankings related to overall program quality, Penn State programs also were proven to be prominent when other important dimensional measures were assessed. For example, the NRC study found that fully 55 percent of all Penn State programs garnered a 5th percentile ranking within the top 10 percent of programs in student support and outcomes, an important measure of student success. Not only did the majority of graduate programs rise to the top 10 percent for student support and outcomes, but every program offered a full range of 18 support mechanisms for students, reflecting Penn State's commitment to being a student-centered university.

"These data confirm what we already know from many other measures and that is that Penn State has continued to strive for and to achieve scholarly and research excellence over the last 15 years. In that time we have gone from what was a very good university to a truly great university," said Henry C. Foley, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. "These rankings are a testament to our faculty, staff and students and to the vision of our leadership."