A new national college rankings survey recently named the UCSB Political Science Dept. graduate program number eight in the nation.
The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, financed by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, ranked the graduate programs of 354 universities according to faculty productivity, including the number of publications in journals as well as honors awarded to faculty members. UCSB’s program tied with Princeton University for eighth place.
“Everybody is pleased with the results, even though we already knew we were doing a good job,” Political Science Dept. chair John Woolley said. “It is really nice, however, to have an outside source acknowledge the great job our graduate department is doing.”
Fourth-year political science graduate student Thomas Hartman said he was surprised by the results.
“Since our department is full of relatively young faculty, you would think they wouldn’t of had the time to produce all of the work that older, more established faculty would,” Hartman said. “It is a very strong compliment to the success of our faculty that they did so well in the survey.”
Woolley said the survey results would attract more attention to the department’s graduate program.
“Our department has been known in the past to have a very distinctive profile, focusing on political behavior, democratization [and] public policy,” Woolley said. “These new results will show that our program is further expanding in the future and this could help those students thinking about going to UCSB decide to come here.”
A company called Academic Analytics conducted the rankings survey after it received funding from SUNY Stony Brook. According to the Academic Analytics website, the new survey is the brainchild of Lawrence B. Martin, dean of SUNY Stony Brooks’ graduate school.
The new ranking system looks at faculty productivity – and not reputation – to determine the quality of a school’s graduate program. Schools were ranked according to number of faculty, publication of articles, journals and books; amount of research, and number of awards. Survey analysts gathered data from 354 universities in the United States.
Woolley said the FSPI ranking varies considerably from other popular assessments.
“Rankings such as the U.S. News and World Report rankings are reputational rankings that tend not to change over time,” Woolley said. “Basically, they ask people ‘Is this a good graduate program?’ and the ranking is based on the result. The actual quality of the programs is not such a significant factor.”
Although the department ranked very highly, Woolley said UCSB was potentially undervalued because the process uses a ratio dependent on faculty size.
“Since these rankings are based on a faculty to productivity ratio, if the survey misrepresents the number of faculty then it makes it seem like the school is less productive,” Woolley said. “This is a problem some schools are having because the number of faculty gets misreported. Though we are happy with the result of the rankings, even our program has been reported as slightly less productive than it really is.”