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Peter Cary Discusses the 'U.S. News' Survey of Best American Grad SchoolsAired March 31, 2000 - 1:42 p.m. ET
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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thinking about adding to your college degree? Then you may want to look at the latest rankings of the best graduate schools in America. According to "U.S. News & World Report," Yale is the best place for graduate studies in law. Engineering grads should think MIT. Harvard takes top honors in medicine and education, and it ties Stanford for offering the best graduate business degree. The best nursing school in the country, according to "U.S. News," is the University of Washington.
Peter Cary is the special projects editor with "U.S. News & World Report." He joins us from Washington with more on the grad school rankings.
Peter thanks for being with us.
PETER CARY, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Nice to be with you, Natalie, thank you.
ALLEN: Any surprises on this year's list? Looks like the usual suspects to me -- Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford.
CARY: Well, kind of, although we do have a bit of an unusual situation here with Harvard being at the top of three different disciplines. That doesn't normally happen. But Harvard is such a great institution, as you pointed out, they're in a tie in our rankings with Stanford for first place among business schools, and then also at the top of the list of medical schools and schools of education as well.
ALLEN: Is that a first that one school takes three top spots?
CARY: That's a first. We might also note that Stanford, in what we call the big-five disciplines, is tied with Harvard, again, in first place in business and then is in second place in three other disciplines. So that's quite unusual also.
ALLEN: And what do you look for? What's your criteria? I want to ask that because I remember one time we had a study that we shared here on CNN about the best beaches, and one of the criteria was did they have good parking. And to me, that shouldn't make a good beach or not. But what do you look at?
CARY: Well, parking's not on our list of criteria, but a lot of other things are. They vary -- with the graduate schools they very from discipline to discipline. What we're trying to do here is use quantitative measures to determine the quality of education. It's quite a difficult thing to try to accomplish, but we try to do this to perform a public service for students and for parents who are looking to find ways of comparing the quality of education at these institutions.
We look at the quality of entering students according to their great point averages and their score on admissions tests. We look at other things, like faculty-student ratios at these different institutions. "U.S. News" also takes a look at the -- among the business schools, for instance, the starting salaries for business school graduates. Among the law schools, we rate them according to their bar-passage rates and their jurisdictions.
So as I said, it varies from discipline to discipline, but there are about 20 different indicators that we search through to try to rate these schools.
ALLEN: And I know it's a big deal when "U.S. News" comes out every year with its list. What separates your study from other rankings of schools, do you think.
CARY: I think the big difference is in what I mentioned earlier, that in that it is so disciplined, so based on quantitative information. It's not anecdotal. We don't survey students. But I might point out, of course, that we say to everyone who can hear us and who can read our guides and visit us on our Web site, www.usnews.com, that the rankings should not be the only criteria for determining what college or what graduate school to go to. What's most important, really, is fit. And students should -- and, in fact, we know they do -- use all sorts of other personal criteria to try the to find the school that's the best fit for them.
ALLEN: OK, Peter Cary, thanks again. If you want to check it out. "U.S. News," best graduate schools.
Thanks for being with us.
CARY: Thank you.
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