Methodology updated for law schools; tuition and enrollment changes calculated for each discipline.

usnews-graduate-rankingsAccording to U.S. News & World Report, what makes graduate schools “the best” in certain disciplines needs to take into account job placement data.

The publication today released the “2016 Best Graduate Schools” rankings. The 2016 edition features information and rankings for what U.S. News says is the largest professional graduate school disciplines–business, law, education, engineering and medicine–as well as specialty rankings within each discipline.

New this year, U.S. News expanded the nursing programs rankings and updated the law school methodology to better account for employment rates among new graduates.

The methodology for law schools has been updated so that they received less credit for employing their own new graduates. In last year’s rankings, university-funded or school-funded jobs had been fully weighted in the law schools methodology. Non-university-funded long-term jobs where bar passage is required and a J.D. degree was an advantage were the only jobs that got 100 percent credit in the U.S. News employment success calculations because the publication believes these positions are the most highly desired jobs for new graduates.

Employment success makes up 18 percent of the overall ranking. It’s determined by calculating employment rates for graduates at graduation, which count for 4 percent of the overall ranking, and at nine months after graduation, which count for 14 percent.

“For new J.D. graduates, being employed by their law school or holding a university-funded job is less desirable than being employed more permanently in a law firm, in government or in a corporation,” explained Robert Morse, director of Data Research for U.S. News.

According to a recent report by the American Bar Association, jobs funded by the law school or university tend to be temporary, where “the graduate is not committed to the job even for the full year, but rather is free to take a more attractive job if one appears (and this is the outcome that the school and the student hope will occur).”

“The ABA is therefore considering enacting new reporting standards to clearly distinguish school-funded jobs from other types of jobs so that prospective students are aware of the difference,” said Morse. “Still, U.S. News believes that these law-school-funded positions have some value, since being employed in a law-related job is preferable for new graduates than not working in the legal field or being unemployed. Therefore, these jobs will still be partially factored into the rankings.”

(Next page: The 2016 Best Graduate Schools)


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