Two URI doctoral programs among top 10 in nation

National Research Council puts a third program in top 20

KINGSTON, R.I. – December 15, 2010 – The good news just keeps coming for the University of Rhode Island Graduate School, as it learned that two of its doctoral programs rank in the top 10 nationally and a third is ranked in the top 20.

The rankings follow a survey done by the National Research Council, a part of the Council of Graduate Schools. URI’s programs in Environmental and National Resource Economics and in Oceanography were ranked in the top 10, earning high marks for research and their ability to attract external research funding. Nutrition and Food Science, which was cited for its student support and outcomes, was ranked in the top 20.

The Environmental and National Resource Economics program ranked in the top 10 along with Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California-Berkeley.

The National Research Council’s assessment of research-doctorate programs analyzes more than 5,000 programs at 212 universities, spanning 62 fields.

The news comes on the heels of news that the URI Graduate School has experienced its sharpest increase in applications and enrollment in a decade.

“U.S. graduate schools are a strategic national asset, and the results of this important study will help academic leaders and policy makers establish benchmarks for higher education both here and around the globe,” said Debra W. Stewart, Council of Graduate Schools president. “Doctoral education strengthens our country’s research base and develops the talent we need to remain competitive in the knowledge-based global economy of the 21st century.”

The data collection effort required the participating universities to analyze and compile statistics on more than 60 characteristics of their doctoral programs, such as faculty productivity, students, financing and graduate placement.

The URI Graduate School offers 25 doctoral programs and 33 master’s programs.

“It’s excellent that we have three programs in the top 20, but we’d like to see more,” said Nasser Zawia, interim dean of the Graduate School. “One of the keys to increasing that number is to encourage more URI departments to participate in the national survey. The Graduate School can offer assistance to those departments in filling out those surveys. We’d like to have five programs in the top 20, and with some support and resources, that goal is certainly attainable.”

Zawia said nationally and internationally, URI is recognized for its renowned graduate programs. “Three nationally-ranked programs is not really reflective of who we are,” he said. “We have many more programs that are among the best in the country and in the world.”

“We are a major research institution, and we have an impact, regionally, nationally and internationally,” he said.