‘U.S. News’ Rankings Place Programs Among Nation’s Best

U.S. News and World Report’s newest rankings for graduate school programs ranks many of UC Irvine’s programs among the top of their field. In its first ranking of criminology programs, the magazine ranked UCI’s criminology, law and society program fourth best out of 33 in the nation.
‘The criminology department includes many highly ranked professors and classes on a diverse range of topics, so I’m not surprised by the rankings,’ said Elizabeth O’Hara, a fourth-year criminology, law and society and psychology and social behavior major.
In addition, the behavioral neuroscience program in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior ranked fifth, while the literary criticism and theory program in the Department of English ranked second, rounding out programs ranked in the top 10.
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering had a slight rise in ranking from last year’s place at 42 to this year at 40.
Nicolaos Alexopoulos, dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, felt that the slight improvement was an achievement and wishes to set a platform to break into the top 20 in the next five years. He said that these rankings were important as they are read by many people and hence help attract more students and faculty.
‘It is an actual improvement because it gets more difficult to move up in the rankings,’ Alexopoulos said. ‘This has improved the quality and number of student applicants as the families usually pay attention to user rankings and not the National Research Council which brings out academic rankings.’
According to Alexopoulos, the school now prides itself on the four members of the National Academy of Engineering as being part of its regular faculty. Also, the annual research funding per faculty has doubled since five years ago. With more funding, including some from the private industry, Alexopoulos, who believes that schools should improve quality of education and research before rankings, looks to find more quality faculty to come to UCI.
‘We have 14 new faculty position openings this year but we will not fill them unless we get outstanding faculty,’ Alexopoulos said. ‘We want to make sure that Orange County in the future becomes something like Silicon Valley but in biomedical devices with emphasis on health care instead of software.’
The School of Humanities’ graduate English program ranked 16th overall. In addition to the high ranking of the literary theory program, the gender and literature specialty ranked 19th. UCI’s history program, also in the School of Humanities, made it to the 32nd spot.
Linda Bauer, a professor of art history and acting dean of the School of Humanities, said that she was pleased to see the school emerge as a strong graduate program.
‘We are pleased to know that we are right at the top in programs such as literary criticism and theory,’ Bauer said. ‘We hope to continue and consolidate these efforts.’
Bauer also pointed out that UCI’s accomplishments are impressive in light of the fact that the university is relatively young compared to others in the top 20. However, the literary criticism and theory program dropped to the second position from its top-ranking several years ago, though Bauer doesn’t see the change as important.
‘First rank or second rank is statistically insignificant. They are virtually the same,’ Bauer said.
The Paul Merage School of Business was ranked 49th this year, dropping two places from last year’s rankings.
For the first time, the School of Medicine has been named one of the top 50 graduate programs for research nationwide, ranking 46th in a tie with three other universities.
Other graduate programs on this year’s top-50 list are political science which is ranked 35th, sociology 27th and economics 48th.