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National Assessment of Doctoral Programs Is Good News for the University of Memphis

    The University of Memphis received good marks in a national assessment of more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 colleges and universities across the United States. The results of the survey were released today by the National Research Council.

    The NRC conducted the survey between 2001 and 2006 in an effort to provide a more comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs than is available in popular college rankings such as U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, and other commercial surveys, which attempt to rate entire institutions, not individual programs.

    “We were very pleased with the survey results,” said Dr. Karen Weddle-West, vice provost for Graduate Programs at the U of M. “Overall, the doctoral programs at the University of Memphis are competitive with those of our academic peers and funding peers in the three dimensions that were assessed: research activity, diversity, and student outcomes and support. In fact, some of our doctoral programs ranked higher than those of our peers on several variables. The results of this data-based assessment underscore our Carnegie Classification as RU/H, Research University with High Levels of Research Activity.

    “We were particularly pleased with our very good assessments in the areas of diversity and support of our students. In fact, we compared very favorably against some very well known public universities that are considered the flagship universities in their states.”

    Dr. Ralph Faudree, U of M provost, noted that even though the report indicates that the University made progress over the period 2001-2006, the U of M has made even more progress since 2006, when the last information for the just-released survey was collected. “Our graduate school is growing overall,” he said. “Over the past five years we have instituted new doctoral programs, even entirely new schools that offer new doctorates, such as the School of Public Health, that were not in existence in 2006.

    “Additionally, our faculty have produced more publications, have been cited more, have won more grants, and have improved in other measurable criteria over the past five years.”

    Faudree and Weddle-West also noted that since the end of the survey’s reporting period, the University of Memphis has significantly increased, by millions of dollars, external funding for research support. The University has also established, in conjunction with leading corporate, research, and academic institutions, the Memphis Research Consortium (MRC), which facilitates the transfer of information ideas and technologies for research entities.

    Information was collected about 14 doctoral programs at the University of Memphis. They included biological and health sciences (a) ecology and evolutionary biology and (b) genetics and genomics, biomedical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, communications, computer science, English, history, mathematics, mechanical engineering, music (except performance), philosophy, and psychology. That information was compared to the same information about hundreds of doctoral programs altogether.

    “United States graduate schools prepare the highly skilled workforce necessary for the nation to remain competitive in today’s knowledge-based economy,” said Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. “This NRC assessment provides important information about the quality of doctoral education, which is so critical to our future.”

    Prospective graduate students typically gather data from multiple sources and weigh each graduate program against their individual needs before making their decisions. They will have access to the NRC report, which will provide them with additional information for that decision-making process. Details of the report are available online at http://www.nap.edu/rdp.


Questions from the news media regarding the NRC’s Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States (2010) should be directed to Curt Guenther, U of M Office of Marketing and Communication, 901-678-2843.

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Last Updated: 1/24/13