‘U.S. News & World Report”s newest published rankings for graduate school programs released on April 5 rated both UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Graduate School of Management in the top 50 of the nation’s best graduate schools.
The School of Engineering was ranked at 42, which is an improvement from the previous year’s standing at 47. In addition, seven specialty areas within the school were ranked in the top 50.
Nicolaos Alexopoulos, dean of the engineering school, attributes the rise in the schools’ rankings to the outstanding students and faculty that the school attracts.
‘There’s a whole list of factors that ‘U.S. News & World Report’ uses to rank the schools, but there are some key factors [such as the] GRE,’ Alexopoulos said. ‘Scores for graduates have gone up uniformly every year.’
He also says that the distinguished faculty that the School of Engineering has hired in the past few years, as well as the research funding of the school, has contributed to the rise in rankings.
The engineering school is extremely popular and competitive because of the exposure to some of the most advanced technology that the students receive, such as the National Fuel Cell Research Center and the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility, as well as other benefits, such as fellowships for their graduate students.
Despite everything that the School of Engineering has to offer, Alexopoulos believes that there is still room for improvement.
‘We need to improve substantially on our research funding per faculty per year, which means we have to have externally-funded large research centers, externally-funded large institutes, which are missing on this campus in general, not just in engineering,’ Alexopoulos said.
The Graduate School of Management also made it to the 47th ranking on the ‘U.S. News & World Report”s top 50 list, dropping down one notch from last year.
Jone L. Pearce, interim dean of GSM, is not worried about the drop in rankings.
‘We aren’t treating it as a drop in rankings because even the most insignificant changes in a school can bring down the rankings,’ Pearce explained.
She pointed out that several years ago GSM dropped 10 points in the rankings due to a minor drop in the median grade point average of GSM students from 3.45 to 3.42.
Despite the attention these annual rankings receive, Pearce believes that the rankings are not an accurate reflection of the quality of a management school.
‘It doesn’t measure in faculty quality or education quality,’ Pearce said.
GSM is ranked fifth for intellectual capital in ‘Business Week Magazine,’ which according to Pearce is a better reflection of faculty quality and student quality.
Thomas Eppel, professor and assistant dean for information technology management, has studied the rankings very carefully and also agrees that GSM has essentially stayed the same in the rankings.
‘What’s important for people to know is that you have to take these rankings with a grain of salt,’ Eppel said. ‘In my opinion, if we continue to pay attention to the quality of the program, the rankings will follow.’
The school’s acceptance rate for the full-time program in the fall of 2003 was 34.9 percent with an average starting salary of $66,350.
When Andrew Policano comes in as the new dean of GSM, Pearce says that one of the goals of the school will be to improve its ‘reputational rankings because our quality is already there, and geographical location and size makes us less visible.’
‘U.S. News & World Report’ ranks business, engineering, law, education and medicine programs annually. Periodically, the magazine also ranks other graduate programs. The last time that the social science and humanities programs were ranked in 2001, the literary criticism and theory program was ranked first in the nation while the creative writing program ranked sixth in the nation. The biological sciences program made it to the 36th ranking and cell biology and developmental biology was ranked 21st the last time programs in the sciences were ranked in 2002.
Students and faculty, while proud of the achievements of the graduate schools, believe that there are ways that they can still be improved.
Hamid Moradkhani, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student, says that the School of Engineering should hire more faculty.
‘They should recruit more faculty that have experience in the practice,’ Moradkhani said. ‘For example, if they are working in the engineering department, they need to have experience in the professional field.’
Marc Madou, professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering, believes that UCI needs to work on making the university more recognizable.
‘We probably need to work more on international recognition because it isn’t good if students graduate and people never hear of UCI,’ Madou said.
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