The National Research Council (NRC) has just released detailed rankings of doctoral programs at research universities. The previous NRC rankings released in 1983 and 1995 did not rank programs in any of the core fields for which CNR was evaluated in the new study – agricultural and resource economics, ecology and evolutionary biology, microbiology, nutrition, and plant sciences. CNR’s efforts in some other core fields (e.g., entomology or forestry) were not evaluated as a result of the way the NRC structured the study. Programs were evaluated on the basis of twenty characteristics including the number and significance of research publications, financial support, graduate student qualifications and outcomes, diversity, etc.
Doctoral programs evaluated in the study were not assigned a single rank, but as falling somewhere within a range of ranks, such as between 1st and 6th, in recognition of the uncertainties that surround any attempt to rank programs by quality.
The overall quality of three CNR programs—Agricultural and Resource Economics, Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition, and Plant Biology—placed them in a ranking range that included 1st place. The ranking range for Microbiology included 2nd place, and for Environmental Science, Policy, and Management 4th place.
Reflecting on these results, Dean Keith Gilless commented that, “this recognition of the strength of the college’s programs won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has spent any time watching what goes on in CNR’s laboratories or graduate seminars – but it is certainly gratifying. The NRC rankings make it clear what a special place UC Berkeley is, and how CNR contributes to its excellence. As noted in the campus’ press release, however, sustaining this kind of excellence will require us to work harder to provide the kind of competitive support packages that are needed to attract and nurture the best graduate students. In an era of declining state support, securing additional private funding will be essential to keep our programs on top.”
To learn more about how Berkeley programs fared go to:
To see the NRC full report go to: http://www.nap.edu/rdp/