Brandeis doctoral programs rate high in national survey

National Research Council notes strength of neuroscience, American history, biochemistry and English and American literature

Brandeis graduate research programs in the sciences, history and literature are among the finest in the United States, according to an extensive, in-depth evaluation conducted by the National Research Council and released this fall.

Neuroscience, American history, biochemistry and English and American literature all were rated among the top programs in their fields. Mathematics and music were also rated highly.

The full NRC report took into account data from more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities nationwide.

Exact rankings were not calculated, so there is no number one-two-three in any given field. Instead programs were given a range of ratings on two separate scales. The different scales reflect different weightings given to 20 underlying evaluation factors, which include the publication record of program faculty, the diversity of faculty and students, the performance of students and the resources students are given.

Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe said that the results "validate the strength of our commitment to scholarship and to graduate education. Across the humanities, social sciences, sciences and arts, we are offering Ph.D. programs that compare favorably with those of many larger universities."

"It is a testament to the quality and dedication of our faculty," Jaffe said. "I am pleased to have the strength of these programs confirmed by the National Research Council."

The neuroscience Ph.D. program was found to be among the most elite programs in the country, in the company of MIT, Harvard and Stanford.

"We are exceptionally pleased but not that surprised by the NRC report," said Professor Eve Marder, head of the Division of Science at Brandeis and past president of the Society for Neuroscience. "While Brandeis is much smaller than most of our peer institutions, we have an extraordinary faculty in neuroscience."

Brandeis University was one of the first institutions in the country to establish an undergraduate neuroscience major. Its Ph.D. program draws on 28 faculty members from four academic departments.

Professor Jane Kamensky, chair of the Department of History, said she was delighted that Brandeis' American history Ph.D. program placed among the top history programs in the country. In one of the two overall ranking methods, this program was ranked ahead of Yale, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. 

"Despite being one of the smallest programs in the country Brandeis was ranked highly for faculty research intensity, student support and student professional success," Kamensky said. "Our students enjoy the academic and professional activities of the very best programs, programs mounted by departments with many more faculty. Even the overall diversity of the student body, never easy to achieve in doctoral programs in the humanities and social sciences, was highly ranked compared to competing programs."

The NRC functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). All are part of a private, nonprofit institution that provides science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter originally granted to the NAS and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. 

Categories: General

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage