Two of GW’s graduate schools placed in the top 50 of U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings released Monday, as the Law School tied for 23rd and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development took the number 25 spot.
The Law School held the same rank as last year, tied with the universities of Illinois, North Carolina and Washington. Its acceptance rate of 17 percent was slightly lower than last year, competing with top law schools Yale, Harvard and Stanford. The student-to-faculty ratio was also higher than most other schools on the list.
“Washington just keeps getting to be an attractive place for lawyers,” said Michael Young, dean of the Law School.
Young cited nationally recognized programs as the school’s strengths. The school was ranked second in intellectual property law, ninth in environmental law and 10th in international law.
The environmental law program is one of the oldest in the country with one of the largest curriculums, said professor Arnold Reitze, co-director of the program.
“The location (in D.C.) is both an advantage and a disadvantage,” Reitze said. He said students interested in the environment typically like to be far away from cities. Interest in the program has decreased from about 200 students in the past to 30 this year, as there are jobs in other areas, he said.
Young said nationally recognized faculty are an important part of the school’s prestige.
“There’s an incredibly high level of teaching going on here,” Young said. “The work they do is being translated into policy almost immediately.”
The Graduate School of Education and Human Development improved in the rankings, jumping five spots from 30th to 25th. The school of education excels in funded research, raising $670,500 a faculty member in 2000. This amount is second only to the University of Oregon.
In the private college category, the school ranked third behind Vanderbilt University and Boston College, an impressive feat considering its small faculty of 65, said professor Jay Shotel, chairman of the Department of Teacher Preparation and Special Education.
“In essence we’re a big fish in a small pond,” Shotel said.
Shotel said the school does well in the category of reputation score by superintendents, who recognize the quality of the teachers the school produces. Of the teachers the school trains, 74 percent taught in the highest-need areas, including math, special education and English as a second language.
The school’s academic reputation score is not as high because the deans are not as well known, Shotel said. Faculty members teach about four to six classes a year as opposed to other universities’ faculty that may be dedicated to only research, he said.
The school does not have plans to grow, but Shotel said he thinks the school could increase its student population, which is now about 65 to 70 students. The school also needs space to expand its facilities, he said.
“When they like you, you speak positively of them, but when they don’t, no one likes them,” Shotel said of the U.S. News rankings.
The best thing about the rankings is that it gives students looking for a school or program a place to start, Shotel said.
“They can choose which information to use and which not to use,” he
-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.