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US News ranks MIT fifth among national universities

MIT ranks fifth among national universities, first in graduate engineering and second in undergraduate business programs, according to the 2002 US News and World Report guidebook, "America's Best Colleges."

US News said the top national universities were Princeton (#1), Harvard and Yale (tied for #2), Caltech (#4), and MIT, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania (tied for #5).

In business and engineering specialties, MIT was ranked first more often than any other school--in six fields of engineering and five fields of undergraduate business.

In the "best value" rankings, MIT is tied for eighth place (with Dartmouth, University of Missouri at Columbia and University of Virginia). This ranking relates a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of financial aid.

President Charles M. Vest said, "It's gratifying that our reputation and a variety of metrics have again placed us in the very top cluster of US universities and that our ranking in engineering and management is particularly strong. Nonetheless, I continue to believe that it's meaningless to split hairs to put top schools in a specific rank order. As always, MIT will continue to do what we believe is important in education and research without regard to the metrics used in such rankings."

"Rankings are certainly a measure of who we are and what we represent, and we all should be delighted by our extraordinary external reputation," said Dean of Engineering Thomas Magnanti. "We should be even more pleased, however, by the wonderful new students and faculty who joined our ranks this past week. They will determine our future--and what a remarkable future it appears to be."

About the business school ranking, Richard Schmalensee, dean of the Sloan School, said, "We are gratified that our undergraduate program in management science has once again been recognized as one of the best in the nation." Sloan tied for second with University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School was ranked first.

In engineering specialties, MIT ranked first in six areas: aeronautics/astronautics, chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical/electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering. MIT ranked fourth in biomedical, environmental/environmental health, and material sciences.

MIT was tops in five business areas: e-commerce (tied with Carnegie-Mellon), management information systems, production/operations management, quantitative analysis/meth-ods and supply chain management/logistics. MIT was #3 in both entrepreneurship and management; it was ranked fifth in finance.

The ranking categories, which changed slightly this year, are Best National Universities/Doctoral, Best Liberal Arts Colleges/Bachelor's (National), Best Universities/Master's (Regional), and Best Comprehensive Colleges/Bachelor's (Regional).

The newsstand book, "America's Best Colleges," which contains all the US News college rankings, went on sale Sept. 6. Many of the rankings and some of the articles from the book are in the Sept. 10 issue of US News & World Report.

The method that US News uses to rank colleges and universities consists of three basic steps. The schools are categorized; US News then gathers data from each on up to 16 indicators of academic excellence and each factor is assigned a weight. Finally, the colleges in each category are ranked against their peers based on their composite weighted score.

Most of the data come from the colleges and are checked for accuracy by US News. This year, 94 percent of the schools returned surveys. The indicators used to capture academic quality fall into seven categories: academic reputation, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and (for national universities/doctoral and liberal arts colleges/bachelor's), "graduation rate performance"--the difference between the proportion of students expected to graduate and the proportion who actually do.

The indicators include input measures that reflect a school's student body, faculty and financial resources, as well as outcome measures that signal how well the institution does its job of educating students.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 12, 2001.

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