Here is some advice from our graduate team on how to consider rankings when searching for a graduate program:
Do rankings of graduate programs matter? Rankings have been a source of controversy for many years. Organizations such as US News and World Report, Princeton Review, Kiplingers, and many others have been ranking universities and programs for a long time. Do I think they matter? Well, I work at George Mason University and many of our graduate programs have been ranked, including a top nationally ranked School of Law. So, on one hand, yes I love the rankings and they tell everyone exactly the information they want to know. When they rank Mason programs, they are 100% correct.
Now, on the other hand, there are tons of great programs that never get ranked. When I worked at the UMass Boston College of Management, I heard an anecdote about when business school deans were asked to rank the best undergraduate business schools the “winner” was Stanford University. Who is surprised? Well, everyone should be. Stanford does not have an undergraduate business school!
The message is to take rankings with a grain of salt. Yes, they can certainly be helpful, but should only be used as one source for information. Just as any other important decision in life is made, the choice of a graduate school is one that should be carefully researched from a variety of sources. The good old campus visit and talking to current students still is number one in my book whenever it is possible. Should a US News ranking decide where you go for graduate school? Probably not, but this and many other internet resources and print publications can help you make the right choice.
So, I told you I would answer the question of whether or not rankings of graduate programs matter. The definitive answer is yes … and no!