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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt graduate programs make substantial gains in 2022 U.S. News rankings

The Vanderbilt School of Medicine is now ranked No. 13 in research, while the Law School is ranked in the top 20 of best law schools.
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Anjali Chanda
Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) sign, as photographed on February 2, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

The latest iteration of the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings released on March 30 has five Vanderbilt graduate and professional schools ranked in the top 25 of their respective categories. 

“It is gratifying to see the achievements of our faculty, students, staff and alumni recognized by these latest U.S. News rankings,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said in a university press release. “As a university, it is vital that we continue to build upon our great progress in graduate-level education.” 

Medical School

The Vanderbilt School of Medicine (VUSM) rose five spots, ranking 13 on the list of Best Research Institutions. In doing so, VUSM surpasses the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine and the University of Chicago (UChicago) Pritzker School of Medicine, institutions that are both highly regarded internationally. Geffen and Pritzker both ranked above Vanderbilt in last year’s rankings, but are ranked 21 and 17 in the most recent list. 

Vanderbilt currently shares the 13 spot with the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), while Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) and the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine both rank ahead at 11. VUSM is ranked above Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (UMich), which are tied at rank 15. In the 2021 rankings, WashU and Mayo Clinic were tied for sixth, followed by Pitt at 14 and UMich at 15. 

“An important component of the ascent of the School of Medicine is the strength of its research programs,” Lawrence Marnett, VUSM dean of basic sciences said in a statement to The Hustler. 

VUSM moved up two places from 11 to 9 in funding from the National Institute of Health, and seven departments are in the top five of their disciplines. 

“The long-term investments the school continues to make in research coupled with its collegial and supportive atmosphere make it an exceptional place to do biomedical science,” Marnett said about the research rankings of VUSM. 

Law School

Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) ranked 16 in the nation and is tied with the University of Texas, Austin and WashU. VULS is among peers of Georgetown University, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and Boston University, which are respectively ranked 15, 19 and 20. Vanderbilt is ranked above the University of Notre Dame ranked 22nd, and closely trails Cornell University, ranked 13.

However, Chris Guthrie, dean of VULS, expressed some concern about the methodology of the U.S. News rankings

“Law schools exist to generate knowledge about law and the legal system and to prepare students for entry into the profession,” Guthrie wrote in a commentary published in Jurimetrics, [a peer-reviewed academic journal], in 2019. “Law school rankings, in turn, should evaluate schools on their success in carrying out this two-part mission.” 

Guthrie identifies three steps that U.S. News could take to replace the current ranking system with one that is mission-based. Guthrie writes that subjective surveys should be replaced with objective measures of scholarly impact. He also claims that the “placement” category, which currently includes first-time bar passage, placement at graduation and placement ten months after graduation, does not accurately represent a law school. Lastly, Guthrie believes measurements, like the number of volumes in a law library or the amount of money spent per J.D. student, should not be considered in U.S. News rankings.        

“I don’t think annual fluctuations in the U.S. News rankings are meaningful,” Guthrie said in an email to The Hustler. 

School of Nursing

Other graduate programs, including the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN), made progress in the rankings. The school’s Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) rose one place to eighth, placing Vanderbilt behind the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) and the University of Washington, both tied for sixth. Vanderbilt is ahead of The Ohio State University and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) at ninth. In last year’s ranking, UNC was ranked third, while The Ohio State University and the University of Washington were tied for sixth, followed by UCSF at 11. 

“We’ve implemented a number of changes that could account for the rise [of MSN], the biggest being a significant investment in our research program, including hiring research faculty in targeted areas.” Linda Norman, dean of VUSN, said in a statement to The Hustler. 

Other changes include opening a new building and diversity initiatives that make VUSN one of the best nursing schools for men. 

VUSN’s psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program maintains its No. 1 ranking, while its doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program stands in at sixth, tied with the University of Pittsburgh. Comparatively, Duke University and Emory University are ranked four and eighth for their DNP programs, respectively. 

“When it comes to attracting world-class faculty, rankings serve as a way for potential faculty to see what tier of institution VUSN is,” Norman said. “It is fulfilling to say that we’re a Top 10 nursing school.”

However, Norman’s message for prospective students is to find the right fit and evaluate a program based on their personal needs. 

“No program is right for every student,” Norman said. “I hope that prospective students don’t choose where to get their education based on rankings.” 

Other Graduate Programs 

Vanderbilt University School of Engineering (VUSE), ranked No. 41 overall, is tied with Arizona State University, Fulton. VUSE is ranked behind Yale University, the University of Virginia and the University of California, Irvine Samueli School of Engineering, all of which are tied at No. 38. VUSE is ranked above Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Rochester Hajim School of Engineering at No. 43. 

All graduate programs in the school, meanwhile, improved in the rankings. The biomedical engineering program rose two spots to No. 17. Chemical engineering improved three spots to No. 33, while electrical engineering, civil engineering and environmental engineering are now ranked 43, 42 and 49 respectively.

The Owen Graduate School of Management is ranked No. 23 in business schools, unchanged from last year’s ranking and tied with Indiana University Kelley School of Business. The Owen Graduate School places above the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University ranked 25, and below the University of Washington Foster School of Business at 22.

Progress was also made in the Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development, currently ranked No. 5 in education schools. Vanderbilt follows the University of Wisconsin, Madison at No. 4 and ranks above New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at No. 6. 

Graduate programs in the College of Arts and Science improved in ranking as well. The political science doctoral program improved five places to No. 19 while the program in history and African-American literature are ranked 24 and 11. The number of universities used in the ranking of specific graduate programs by U.S. News is often fewer than the 388 ranked in the Best National University Rankings. Only 146 schools were ranked in history graduate programs, and 12 in African-American literature.  

The overall progress made by Vanderbilt graduate schools comes as the undergraduate acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 is also at an all-time low. 

“Recruiting and retaining the very best graduate students and creating an environment where they can thrive is central to our mission of excellence as a research university,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente said in a university press release. “Our strong graduate school rankings across schools is a signal of our steadfast commitment to excellence, innovation and investment in graduate education as set out in the Academic Strategic Plan.” 

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About the Contributors
Lorenz Chen
Lorenz Chen, Former Staff Writer
Lorenz Chen ('22) is a Santa Barbara native and studied psychology in the College of Arts and Science. He was a staff writer for the News section and an undergraduate researcher for Vanderbilt's Early Development Lab. He can be reached at [email protected].
Anjali Chanda
Anjali Chanda, Former Staff Photographer
Anjali Chanda (’23) is from Beverly, Massachusetts. She majored in sociology and English with a focus in creative writing. In the past, she wrote for the Arts and Society Section of the Greyhound Newspaper at Loyola University Maryland. In her free time, she can be found painting, writing stories or rewatching New Girl. She can be reached at [email protected].
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