Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

USNews Rankings

  1. Feb 17, 2012 #1
    When choosing a graduate program, how much weight should be given to its US News ranking?

    I've been accepted to two schools which fall within the top 10 for general math, but for my particular subarea in math, one of them ranks about 15 spots ahead of the other. Do people actually care about these rankings? Is there any better indicator of goodness? Phds.org gives some data points but their accuracy is not too great.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    How much weight? As much as you choose - how important is it to you to say "I graduated from a school that is Nth on the USNews Rankings"?
  4. Feb 17, 2012 #3
    In physics schools in the United States. None at all.

    For MBA's people care a lot. For physics schools in Mainland China, people also care a lot about rankings. For physics Ph.D.'s in the US, no one cares about general school rankings. In fact, people care a lot less about your school than your adviser.

    Go to the web site, look at the list of professors, track down the papers that they wrote, and you should be able to make your own judgments about goodness. Also for the smaller departments, you will influence the quality of the department more than the department influences you.
  5. Feb 17, 2012 #4
    When it comes to general rankings, these rankings should be used primarily for grouping schools into groups. That is a school in the top 10 is obviously different than a school in the 20-30 range, but withing these subgroups the differences may not matter as much. The best advice I can give is to ask people in your department (and subfield) about the quality of the schools and look up the professors who work there. If the papers being published and the research being done looks like its your kind of thing, then go for that school. Remember, you are going to a Ph.D program to study a topic of your choosing for 5-7 years with an adviser who's work should hopefully line up with your interests as closely as possible.

    Now in terms of subareas, I personally don't trust the rankings as much. I don't know, I don't feel the method used by US news world and report is the best one for figuring at what school has the best topology or PDEs group because those things can get very subjective. Congrats on being accepted to such great schools, but now comes the harder part about deciding for yourself which one is better for you.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook