The College of Engineering is one of the 10 best engineering schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report’s annual “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings, released Friday. Like last year, the College of Engineering ranked sixth among the country’s 185 doctoral degree-granting engineering schools.

“We are proud to be ranked high, but the rankings must be taken with a grain of salt,” said Stephen Director, College of Engineering dean. “There are many aspects of a college that are not accounted for, like our interdisciplinary program, and there is an ambiguity about how the data are computed. What is interesting, for example, is that some of the colleges ranked in the top 10 don’t have any top-10 ranked specialties. It seems the rankings are partly a simple popularity contest.”

Director added that the top-10 schools are probably comparable, and that the next 10 are, too, but it is hard to know why each school gets its individual rank.

“Its also important to note that universities don’t change very rapidly – you wouldn’t expect to see much of a change from one year to the next – but the rankings change each year, sometimes dramatically,” Director said. “We must keep in mind that (U.S. News and World Report’s) motivation is to sell magazines and make money.”

Engineering Prof. Peter Adriaens said the program’s consistent top-10 rank will likely increase competition for admission to the college.

“U of M is one of the top schools in the country because a number of our constituent departments are highly ranked,” Adriaens said. “We have 12 departments and a number of them are in the top three. We have both breadth and depth – what it takes to achieve the national standing we have.”

The College of Engineering ranked in the top three in three of 13 specialties – environmental engineering and industrial/manufacturing engineering, which were both ranked second, and nuclear engineering, which was ranked third.

“The Michigan engineering department is amazing,” said Jennifer VanRoeyen, a second-year Engineering graduate student. “It offers an experience you can’t get from other schools. A big attraction is its diversity, both in the student body and in course offerings. Also, the graduate program has great research opportunities, and the undergraduate program has high-quality GSIs.”

U.S. News used several quality indicators to determine the overall national rankings. It distributed peer assessment surveys to engineering school deans, senior faculty and corporate recruiters to rate the quality of different schools’ programs and measured “research activity,” based on total research expenditures and research dollars per faculty member engaged in research. It also evaluated student selectivity, faculty/student ratios and the proportion of full-time faculty in the National Academy of Engineering in 2002.

“The high ranking affects recruiting; students are looking at graduate programs and these numbers influence their decisions,” said Todd Erpelding, a third-year biomedical engineering Rackham student. “I think (the ranking) probably most reflects the amount of funding the program receives – Michigan does overall very well in terms of funding compared to other universities.”

The College of Engineering granted 1,160 undergraduate degrees, 653 masters degrees and 195 doctoral degrees in 2002. Thirty-three percent of the 6,478 applicants for graduate study in 2002 were accepted. This year’s class had a 3.50 mean undergraduate grade point average.

“Michigan engineers usually don’t have trouble finding a job, which is really important in today’s economy,” VanRoeyen said. “The program provides the background and training students need.”

Other University graduate schools also ranked in the top 15. The Law School ranked seventh, the Medical School and School of Education ranked 8th and the Business School ranked 13th.

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