Numerous colleges in the region found reasons to brag last week about graduate program rankings published by a news magazine.
U.S. News & World Report examined more than 100 graduate school disciplines, ranging from nursing to printmaking, environmental policy to English, computer science to psychology.
In some subject areas, the magazine ranked the top dozen or so programs online and required payment to burrow more deeply into the rankings. In other subject areas, the magazine ranked more than 100 schools online.
Robert Morse, director of data research for the annual U.S. News project, said the information used for the rankings varied by discipline.
They generally included reputation and admissions information, among other elements. Practitioners in some disciplines were surveyed, corporate recruiters gave their opinions, placement data were considered and research expenditures were calculated in some subject areas, Morse said.
Among colleges in the region, the University of Iowa showed the greatest breadth. Iowa was ranked in the top 100 in more than 30 subject areas, including first in speech-language pathology and second for its audiology, physician assistant and rehab counseling programs.
In the Omaha area, the University of Nebraska Medical Center's primary care program for medical students ranked sixth in the nation.
Chancellor Harold Maurer expressed unabashed enthusiasm over the results. The medical center also ranked 12th in rural medicine and 62nd in medical research. He called those "the best numbers we've ever had" and said his institution is "a growing powerhouse in Nebraska."
"We've really done a lot," he said. "I think that we're being recognized."
The University of Nebraska at Omaha also stood out in some disciplines.
UNO placed sixth for its information and technology management program and sixth for public finance and budgeting. Both are in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. "These rankings reflect our national reputation," the college's acting dean, John Bartle, said in a press release.
UNO received the No. 11 ranking for its nonprofit management program, No. 14 for city management and No. 17 for its criminology program.
Creighton University performed well in some areas, including 15th in occupational therapy and 16th in physical therapy. The dean over those programs, Chris Bradberry, said the disciplines in his School of Pharmacy and Health Professions are judged by U.S. News in part through an "academic opinion poll."
Bradberry said the magazine's effort is "well-known, and people pay attention to it and put credence in it." They probably give it more weight than it deserves, he said. But he added that the rankings also represent legitimate recognition of good programs.
The College of St. Mary received mention for its occupational therapy program, which the magazine ranked No. 54.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln won recognition for more than 15 of its programs. The magazine ranked UNL ceramics ninth and biological/agricultural engineering 10th.
Iowa State University received rankings in about a dozen subjects, including fifth in biological/agricultural engineering, 17th in veterinary medicine and 20th in statistics.
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