The Daily Californian Online

College of Engineering Ranks in U.S. News Top 10

By Emma Dries
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Category: News > University > Academics and Administration

UC Berkeley's College of Engineering will be included in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the top 10 graduate engineering schools offering a Ph.D. for at least the eighth year running, according to a preview of the 2012 rankings.

Complete rankings of almost 200 schools will be revealed March 15, but those making the top 10 were released on the U.S. News website Wednesday. In recent years, U.S. News graduate school rankings for the top engineering programs with doctorate programs have remained constant, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and UC Berkeley coming in at numbers one, two and three respectively every year since at least 2005, according to online rankings archives.

"I don't think the No. 3 ranking is justified really - I think we should be higher," said UC Berkeley mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Ryan Shelby. "I think they should also be looking at whether the research is meaningful and impactful. It's really amazing the degree of stuff we do here."

However, Shelby added that there were areas in which the school could improve upon, such as increasing student diversity and providing better alternatives to being a graduate student instructor - which can be a significant drain on time - for supporting and funding its students in their first few years.

"We hire young professors and we nurture them well," said Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department. "They stay for their entire career and therefore we develop a strong faculty."

The U.S. News methodology for ranking engineering graduate schools offering a Ph.D. program includes various quantitative indicators, one of which is the number of doctoral degrees awarded by the college. When asked why she believes UC Berkeley placed third to MIT, Alvarez-Cohen cited this indicator as most likely a contributing factor.

"MIT and Stanford both have significantly larger graduate school enrollment in engineering than Berkeley does," Alvarez-Cohen said.

Alvarez-Cohen added that another indicator, which measures total research expenditures, does not take into account money that goes through the Lawrence Hall of Science, which makes up a large portion of research funding on campus.

Specialty rankings for individual graduate departments within the College of Engineering "are based solely on assessments by department heads in each specialty area," according to the U.S. News website. Rankings for UC Berkeley departments vary, with civil and environmental engineering - though a combined department at UC Berkeley - ranking first in both categories in 2011. All other engineering graduate departments also placed in the top five, save for the department of bioengineering, which ranked 12th.

Alvarez-Cohen said the department of bioengineering, which was founded in 1998, is relatively new, and thus still developing.

In the U.S. News 2011 undergraduate engineering school rankings, UC Berkeley fell to the third place spot after tying for second with Stanford every year since at least 2006. The undergraduate rankings for 2012 should be released in August.

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