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National Research Council Rankings

The National Research Council’s “Data-Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs” (2010) ranks the School of Anthropology as one of the best Anthropology programs in the United States. The School is also a top-ranked program on the University of Arizona campus.

The two principal rankings presented by the NRC are discussed below (as summarized on the University of Arizona website For a full discussion of methods, results, and presentation of all data sets see the NRC website:

R-rankings are based on faculty ratings of the quality of individual programs. This overall quality rating was the dependent variable in a regression where the various individual factor scores were the independent variables. The regression coefficients were used to weight the scores on each factor. The regression-based method is a “top-down” approach that starts with ratings of actual programs and uses statistical techniques to infer the weights given by the raters to specific program characteristics. While not a reputational measure, it captures the implicit weights used in reputational judgments.

S-rankings are based on faculty surveys to determine which criteria are considered the most important in their discipline. The results of faculty rankings of the importance of these variables were used to weight the scores in each category. This direct approach is a “bottom-up” approach that builds up the ratings from the importance that faculty members gave to specific program characteristics independent of reference to any actual program. These can be thought of as ‘idealized’ weights.

Top Ten Best R and S Rankings in Anthropology:

University R-ranking (best)
Harvard University 1
University of Chicago 1
University of Michigan 1
University of Arizona 3
University of California, Berkeley 3
University of California, Los Angeles 5
Penn State University 6
Stanford University 7
University of Pennsylvania 7
University of California, Irvine 8
New York University 8
University of Texas at Austin 8
Columbia University 8
Duke University 10
Yale University 10
University S-ranking (best)
Penn State University 1
Duke University 1
Harvard University 3
Stanford University 3
Northwestern University 3
University of Michigan 5
University of California, Irvine 5
Emory University 6
Washington University, St. Louis 7
University of Arizona 8
University of California, Berkeley 8
University of California, Davis 9
University of California, Los Angeles 10
University of Utah 10
SUNY Stony Brook 10

Additional Information on NRC Rankings

The Variables: In social and behavioral sciences, variables were ranked and weighted in both R and S rankings according to the following:

Variable S-ranking R-ranking
Publications per faculty 1  
Citations per publication 2 4
% Faculty with grants 3  
% Students in academic positions 4  
Awards per faculty 5 1
Average GRE scores   2
Number of PhD’s awarded   3
Number of student support activities   5

The Caveats: The NRC rankings, which were produced in 2010 and updated in 2011, are more complex than ever before. As observed by the National Research Council: “The production of rankings from measures of quantitative data turned out to be more complicated and to have greater uncertainty than originally thought. As a consequence, the illustrative rankings are neither endorsed nor recommended by the National Research Council (NRC) as an authoritative conclusion about the relative quality of doctoral programs. Nevertheless, the undertaking did produce important insights that are useful as stakeholders use the dataset and the illustrations to draw conclusions for their own purposes.”