Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NRC: Mass Communications at UW ranked among the very top programs in the nation

UW's Mass Communications Ph.D. degree, administered jointly by the Department of Life Sciences Communication and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, is ranked among the very best in the country in the NRC doctoral rankings released today. Using a 90 confidence interval, the new rankings place Wisconsin's Mass Communications program somewhere between #1 and #6 in the nation on both Overall S-ratings (based on field-specific faculty opinions of the relative importance of the various program factors) and Research Activity ratings (based on four variables used in the overall ranking).  The University of Pennsylvania and Stanford were the only other communication programs whose range in both of these ranking categories included the #1 spot.

A few additional metrics from the NRC study highlight just how vibrant the research culture at Wisconsin really is for the field of communication.  Mass Communications faculty were almost 3 (2.72) standard deviations ahead of the average of the field in terms of the number of publications during the study period. For citations per faculty Wisconsin was 2.20 standard deviations ahead, and for the number of faculty with grants 2.17 standard deviations. 

It is important to note, of course, that these rankings are based on faculty surveys and other data collected almost five years ago, and some commentators described the data released today as stale.  In fact, Inside Higher Ed went so far as to suggest that even the NRC committee responsible for the rankings were no longer willing to endorse them:

"The advance briefing for reporters covering today's release ... may have made history as the first time a group doing rankings held a news conference at which it seemed to be largely trying to write them off.

While the NRC committee that produced the rankings defended its efforts and the resulting mass of data on doctoral programs now available, no one on the committee endorsed the actual rankings, and committee members went out of their way to say that there might well be better ways to rank -- better than either of the two methods unveiled."

Click here for the full set of NRC data and documentation.