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phdincrim2016

Informal Rankings

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Many of us are applying to master's or doctoral programs this year, and the most recent US News & World Report rankings for criminology were in 2009. Granted, the US News rankings aren't everything, but they are a helpful tool in assessing reputation... and they are way out of date.

Are there are any more experienced students or faculty on this site who might care to weigh in with their impressions about how the rankings may have shifted since 2009? I have seen comments on this site about how School X is on the decline or School Y is on the rise, so there must be some opinions. Thanks in advance for anyone who has thoughts!

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My take: Maryland is perennially at the top, followed by Albany, and the rest of the top 10 shift a bit here and there but are basically comparable. 11-20  shift a little bit more, but they're basically the second tier schools. The third tier schools are roughly below 20 on the latest US News, and their ranks have been joined by some new programs. 

I know there was some serious departmental drama/faculty loss at Arizona State, which probably would have led to it sinking if the rankings had been updated.

In the third tier, the new program at UMass Lowell seems to be heavily recruiting candidates from top programs, in order to establish its PhD program as serious. Similar with … Alabama I think it was a couple years ago, hiring good, productive grads from the top programs as junior faculty.

Other than that, I'm curious what other facts/gossip folks on here will share...

One good sign of the quality of the program is the pedigree of the faculty (especially the younger faculty). If all the faculty in a new program are from Maryland or top 10 programs, then it's a sign that PhD grads from top programs decided that that new program was worth working at for some reason...

Edited by Pennywise

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One more thought: It is worth thinking about the PhD quality of the overall university (note that this is different from the undergraduate quality). I know that criminology is much less elitist than other social sciences, but I think there are real, substantive differences between R1 and R3 universities, as far as the kinds of opportunities and education you'll get. R1 universities are places where the faculty are highly research-productive, whereas at R2s and R3s, the faculty are correspondingly less research-productive. Usually that correlates with the resources and size of the faculty, as well as diversity of course offerings and research opportunities. PhDs are research degrees, so research opportunities are *critical*.

For example, at a large R1, you could have opportunities such as, say, taking a class on some new quantitative method with an expert on that method in the Sociology PhD program, and then working with that person on a project over the summer that leads to a paper and then a grant for a bigger followup project. Those types of paths are *possible* at R1s and R2s if you're very self motivated, but harder. Also, not everyone wants to be at an R1, and faculty at R2s and R3s might persuasively argue for the benefits of avoiding R1s where you're expected to sacrifice your entire personal life in order to become an extremely productive researcher.

 

Anyhow, my quick glance through the US News finds that the non-R1s in the US News Top 20 are:

University of Missouri- St Louis (though UM-Columbia is R1)

Rutgers-Newark (though Rutgers-New Brunswick is R1)

Arizona State-Glendale (but ASU-Tempe is R1)

University of Nebraska-Omaha (though UN-Lincoln is R1)

Northeastern

American University

Sam Houston

 

I'm not sure how accessible the R1 resources would be at the non-R1 campuses of schools like University of Missouri. Could you just drive over and work with faculty from the other campuses? I don't know anyone in any of those programs, so I just don't know.

 

ETA this is the list of R1s that I'm using: http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/lookup_listings/srp.php?clq={%22basic2005_ids%22%3A%2215%22}&limit=0,50

Edited by Pennywise

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Carnegie classification is more important than the outdated US news program rankings in determining quality of program in my opinion. When I applied to Phd programs years ago, I only applied to research universities classified as "very high research activity" (R1, R2, etc. terms are no longer used.). Also helps if it is a flagship school, they have the highest research activity, a lot of highly ranked programs are not. Another thing to consider is whether the school has membership in the prestigious AAU.

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On 1/24/2016 at 5:56 PM, Criminologist said:

Carnegie classification is more important than the outdated US news program rankings in determining quality of program in my opinion. When I applied to Phd programs years ago, I only applied to research universities classified as "very high research activity" (R1, R2, etc. terms are no longer used.). Also helps if it is a flagship school, they have the highest research activity, a lot of highly ranked programs are not. Another thing to consider is whether the school has membership in the prestigious AAU.

I have a question about this. How did you sort the schools? I looked on the Carnegie classification website, and there seems to be a few options on how to sort the list. Based upon what you said, i assume you just looked at the 'Doctoral Rankings: Highest Research Activity". But how do you know if these schools are doing a lot of research in CJ/crim specifically? Does it only matter that they are ranked highly for research in general? If that's the case, it makes me very happy to see Georgia State University on there because that is the school closest to my location :D

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