Department of History

Brandeis History Department Ranks 8th in Nation

March 2, 2015

The Brandeis History Department is the 8th most prestigious in North America according to a new study in Science Advances. In an effort to quantify the influence of prestige in academic hiring decisions, the study authors developed a sophisticated prestige score based on both overall faculty production and placement quality, and Brandeis ranks near the top--in the company of an impressive cohort of universities (all much larger).

The study [Aaron Clauset, Samuel Arbesman, and Daniel B. Larremore,"Systemic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks," Science Advances (February 2015)] analyzes placement data on nearly 19,000 tenure-track and tenured faculty from 461 North American academic units in three academic disciplines: History, Computer Science and Business. Their research found that a small number of prestigious institutions produce an outsized share of the nation's tenure-track faculty, underscoring just how important where you earn your PhD is for your prospects of employment in academia. The authors found that across the sampled fields only 25 percent of institutions produce 71 to 86 percent of all professors.

In History, only eight schools account for half of all history professors in the U.S., and Brandeis ranks among those elite eight universities.

Here are the top ten schools in History according to the study's calculated prestige score:

  1. Harvard
  2. Yale
  3. University of California-Berkeley
  4. Princeton
  5. Stanford
  6. Chicago
  7. Columbia
  8. Brandeis
  9. Johns Hopkins
  10. University of Pennsylvania

Brandeis stands out among this list as by far the smallest of these institutions - smaller by a factor of three (or more) in both the number of full-time faculty and in the average number of PhDs conferred than those ranked above it. Indeed, the Brandeis History Department succeeds because of its relatively small size, which enables graduate students to work closely with the many award-winning scholars among the faculty. As department chair David C. Engerman notes, "This collegial environment and dedicated mentoring contribute to the outstanding placement record that includes Brandeis alongside much larger departments at wealthier universities."