The best place to become a family doctor is the University of Washington, while Harvard is tops for those interested in medical research, or earning a doctorate in education. So says U.S. News & World Report in its new issue ranking graduate-degree programs.
Stanford's is first among business schools, according to the Washington-based weekly, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is peerless in engineering. Yale outdoes anyone in law.
Each top-ranked school led a list of about 50, based on such factors as reputation, grades, graduate admission test scores, research grants and graduates' success entering the profession.
But critics think the annual rankings have already become too important, both to prospective students and schools, since they began in 1990. Some schools are going harder after research grants, and doing more to get the students they accept to actually enroll because those are the magazine's criteria to judge them, said Arthur Levine, president of Columbia University's Teachers College.
Meanwhile, image-conscious universities also may take fewer chances on students with less-than-sterling admission test scores. "Frequently that translates to minorities," Levine said.
Debra Stewart, president of the 450-member Council of Graduate Schools, said it's good to rate graduate programs, but U.S. News' rankings create a false sense of precision.
"In a rational world," she said, "is there any difference between 1 or 2, or 7 and 9, or 18 and 19? No."