Harvard Grad School Departments Top Rankings

Harvard boasts the highest number of top-performing doctoral programs, according to a National Research Council report released yesterday.

The report, which drew on five years of data analysis, ranked 27 of 52 Harvard doctoral programs surveyed as best in the nation.

University officials said they were pleased with the report’s assessment of graduate programs across the University.

“These results are a tribute to the quality of the students, faculty, and staff at work across every part of this University,” President Drew G. Faust wrote in a statement.

Of the Harvard programs surveyed, 90 percent placed among the top five in the nation under at least one of two ranking methods.


Harvard’s economics, neuroscience and English programs were ranked number one in their fields under both ranking systems, which depended on faculty survey results.

Harvard outperformed peer institutions in the number of top-ranking doctoral programs. Princeton had the second highest number of top-ranking doctoral programs, with 19 receiving a top ranking in at least one ranking scheme. Yale saw 12 of its programs listed as best in the nation.

Allan Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, echoed Faust’s excitement in an interview with the Crimson.

“It says something very positive about the things that we’ve been very committed to in the graduate school, in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and across the University,” he said.

Brandt said the report validated some of the University’s concerted efforts to build programs in particular fields. As an example, he pointed to the strong showing of the doctoral program in sociology, which received a top ranking.

“That didn’t happen by accident,” he said.

But the strength of some of Harvard’s traditional powerhouses was also confirmed in yesterday’s report.

“We’re thrilled obviously,” said John Y. Campbell, chair of the Economics Department. “I believe us to be the best graduate program,” he added. “[But] we do have tough competition every year, particularly with MIT.”

Brandt said the report’s release provided long-anticipated closure to a process that dates back to the NRC’s last report, in 1995.

The report used data gathered from the 2005-2006 academic year to measure an array of parameters that included faculty publications, faculty grants, student GRE scores and post-graduate student scores.

“It’s always gratifying to have things that you know internally confirmed by a very complex and data-rich process,” Brandt said. “What does the NRC report confirm for me? It confirms that we have an exceptional faculty and we’re attracting great students.”

The analysis offers departments an opportunity to evaluate strengths and weaknesses against performances nationwide.

Brandt said it was too early to discuss changes that might arise from the report’s data, but he has already begun discussing the results with individual departments.

Timothy J. Colton, chair of the Government Department, emphasized that despite the strong showing—the department’s doctoral program was ranked number one—there was more work to be done.

“You have to pedal heard to keep your place in the line of riders,” he said. “There are no grounds for complacency.”

—Staff writer Noah S. Rayman can be reached at