January 11th, 2011

“The mathematics of narcissism”

Fellow mathematician Jordan Ellenberg has an unusual take on the NRC’s rankings: in Slate he compares the NRC’s approach to ranking graduate programs to a new method psychologists are using for classifying mental illnesses. The article is worth reading in full, but the gist of it is that there are two standard approaches to dealing … read more


December 28th, 2010

Professional Science

A heartening holiday article in the NY Times this week: A Master’s for Science Professionals Sweeps U.S. Schools. The Professional Science Masters is catching on big time: The degree, which a few universities quietly pioneered in the mid-1990s, combines graduate studies in science or mathematics and business management courses. In 2008, 58 universities were offering … read more


December 17th, 2010

Students know effective teaching when they see it

So says the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, a major ($45M) effort to assess teacher quality funded by the Gates Foundation. Preliminary findings were released earlier in the week. Key quote from the report: When a teacher teaches multiple classes, student perceptions of his or her practice are remarkably consistent across different groups of students. … read more


November 21st, 2010

Rankings update

Quiet on the blog is often good news: it means that web site improvements are in thw works. Today we’ve rolled out some nice speedups of the rankings site. One of the hazards of working with great hardware and software when developing a site is that it’s easy to forget that there are lots of … read more


November 13th, 2010

Graduate enrollments are up

The Council of Graduate Schools has released their annual report on graduate enrollments. Here’s their key point: “The strong growth in first-time graduate enrollment is an indication of the continued high value of graduate education,” said CGS President Debra W. Stewart. “In particular, the 6.0% gain in first-time U.S. enrollment reflects the increasing necessity of … read more


October 29th, 2010

Rankings changes

Those of you in Communication Research may have noticed something strange about the NRC R-rankings for the field on our site: until yesterday, the confidence intervals for programs almost all started at 1. That means that in our simulated rankings, almost all programs ended up in first place at least 25 times. Why? The reasons … read more


October 22nd, 2010

NRC corrections?

From the NRC’s web site: Some institutions, when they examine the spreadsheet for the database of the National Research Council study A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs, may find data that are or appear to be incorrect. Over the next several weeks following public release of the report and database, we wish to be informed … read more


October 12th, 2010

NRC Data Quality, Part 2

Over the weekend I received another irate email from a department chair bemoaning the grievous and irreparable harm the terrible errors on phds.org were causing his program. I investigated. It turned out that the data in question came from the NSF’s Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering. This survey in turn … read more


October 9th, 2010

NRC Data Quality

In the wake of the new graduate school rankings, we have received a handful of emails from department chairs who are angry about alleged errors in the NRC’s data. The emails by and large follow a pattern: “This specific piece of information about my program is wrong, therefore the data from the NRC are highly … read more


September 28th, 2010

New Graduate School Guide

A little later this afternoon we will be launching a big update of our graduate school guide. The upgrade includes the long awaited new rankings from the National Research Council as well as new data from the National Science Foundation and IPEDS. We’ve also done a big upgrade of the look of the site with … read more