UCI News

Physical Sciences rates well in NRC graduate programs rating

Highly regarded ranking is the first by the science group since 1995.

September 28, 2010

The National Research Council rated a number of UC Irvine doctoral programs among the top in the country with its release today of its first such study in 15 years.

Data collected by the NRC in 2006 from 200 institutions formed the basis of the survey. It is designed to provide a more comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs than other popular ranking systems.

“UC Irvine collected and contributed data for 65 of its doctoral programs as part of this effort to continuously improve doctoral education,” said Frances Leslie, graduate division dean and pharmacology professor. A number of UC Irvine programs, areas and disciplines were recognized in the NRC study as top national programs.

Key findings include:

  • The School of Physical Sciences was an area of particular strength, with all four programs – chemistry, Earth system science, mathematics and physics & astronomy – rated in the top quartile nationally.
  • Other outstanding areas include neuroscience (anatomy & neurobiology and neurobiology & behavior), anthropology, civil engineering and ecology & evolutionary biology.
  • For UCI’s most highly ranked programs, the S rating, which largely reflects research productivity, is higher than the R rating, which includes a reputational component.
  • This difference indicates that these are growing programs that have not yet established national reputations corresponding to their outstanding productivity.

Because UC Irvine is a relatively new campus, the survey may be viewed as a snapshot of a point along the growth trajectory. Following are examples of growth in key areas:

  • In the last two academic years, UCI conferred an average of 369 Ph.D. degrees annually, an increase of 84 percent over the annual conferral rate during the survey period.
  • UCI has for the first time been placed in the top 50 doctoral degree granting institutions, at No. 38 in the 2008 Survey of Earned Doctorates.
  • In 2010, UCI saw a 400 percent increase in NSF Graduate Research Fellowships awarded to current Irvine students.

The NRC report provides a critical opportunity to discuss the importance of quality graduate education and doctoral programs. It is the third and most comprehensive survey conducted by the organization. Unlike other ranking systems, the NRC takes into account many factors. In addition to doctoral program size, university resources, faculty productivity, and student characteristics the 2006 study expanded to include data on doctoral student financing, teaching, and other student resources. The survey increased areas of analysis from 41 to 60 since its last survey in 1995.

About National Research Council: The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,200 staff. The top employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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