the scatterplot official* ranking of sociology graduate programs

After seeing the NRC ranking of graduate programs, my first impulse was to simply ignore it.  The process has been a mess–and now the results reflect that mess perfectly.  My second instinct was to write a post encouraging everyone else to ignore it.  Obviously, that’s not going to happen!  It’s so hard to stop myself from responding and pointing out the many flaws and the really bizarre results.  But it won’t be long until everyone else deals with that task–so instead I think what we really need is an alternative.

The NRC study cost millions of dollars and tens-of-thousands of person hours to create.   I want to be cheap and fast–and better than the NRC ranking.  Not way better, not perfect, just better.  So, I give you the Scatterplot Official Ranking of Sociology (SORS), constructed in less than 15 minutes using a very carefully constructed proprietary algorithm (see footnote 2 for details).  You will no doubt find surprises and program positions you’d quibble with–but anyone who compares my results to the “S” rankings of the NRC will immediately declare mine to be superior and more useful.  I submit, therefore, that you will be more than justified in using the SORS in any future program evaluation, discussion about the state of sociology, or program initiative. 

1    Duke University Durham, NC
2    University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
3    University of California–Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3    University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, WI
3    Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
6    SUNY–Stony Brook Stony Brook, NY
6    University of California–Riverside Riverside, CA
8    Yale University New Haven, CT
9    University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign Urbana, IL
10    Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
11    University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
11    University of Maryland–College Park College Park, MD
11    University of Florida Gainesville, FL
14    Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
15    Indiana University–Bloomington Bloomington, IN
15    University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
17    University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
18    Emory University Atlanta, GA
19    Princeton University Princeton, NJ
20    Stanford University Stanford, CA
20    Brown University Providence, RI
22    University of California–Davis Davis, CA
22    University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
24    University of California–San Diego La Jolla, CA
25    University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
26    University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
27    University of Georgia Athens, GA
28    University of California–Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA
29    University of California–Irvine Irvine, CA
30    Ohio State University Columbus, OH
30    Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
30    Brandeis University Waltham, MA
33    University of Chicago Chicago, IL
33    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
33    Cornell University Ithaca, NY
33    University of Washington Seattle, WA
37    University at Albany–SUNY Albany, NY
38    University of California–Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
38    New York University New York, NY
40    Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
41    University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
42    University of Massachusetts–Amherst Amherst, MA
43    Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey–New Brunswick Piscataway, NJ
44    University of Illinois–Chicago Chicago, IL
45    CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York, NY
46    University of Texas–Austin Austin, TX
46    Pennsylvania State University–University Park University Park, PA
48    Washington State University Pullman, WA
49    Columbia University New York, NY
49    Texas A&M University–College Station College Station, TX
51    University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
52    North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
53    Harvard University Cambridge, MA


* Not really

** I took the top 50 programs in the USNEWS Ranking (actually 53 since there was a 6-way tie for 48th), used a random number generator seeded with my dog’s birthday (for replicability!), and ordered the programs according to the random number assigned.  And yes, despite this extremely mindless (you could even say stupid) way of going about it, I do think the results are more sensible.

9 thoughts on “the scatterplot official* ranking of sociology graduate programs”

  1. I find this ranking quite compelling (although UNC is clearly somewhat overrated). Nevertheless, I’ll be showing it to my Dean — I’ll strip out the footnotes for the Executive Summary, because the Dean is after all a very busy man.


  2. Columbia and Harvard are both in the bottom five. Jeremy and olderwoman will not be happy.

    Duke is #1. If someone can please send an ambulance to Andrew Perrin’s location when his IP address sees this post, I’m certain he will appreciate it.

    Given this construction is almost perfectly designed to irritate half or more of the scatterplot posters, claims of completely random sorting seem improbable.


  3. “Columbia and Harvard are both in the bottom five … Duke is #1” said well known blogger Ken Houghton, suggesting that the face validity of the SORS rankings was very high and likely to command wide agreement amongst experts in the field, administrators, and the general public.


  4. While I appreciate the offer from klhoughton, I assure you that my swoon was but momentary until I read the methodology. Apparently randomness is sufficient to catapult Dook to the top of the ratings periodically, whether in sociology or basketball.


  5. I’m sorry, I can’t accept this. Although the methodology is fine, the ranking suffers from four major flaws:

    1. you need to report the confidence intervals, especially around your dog’s birthday.
    2. why are some programs only listed once?
    3. why are the top programs in the discipline, per NRC, not even ranked?
    4. bootstrapping! we want bootstrapping!


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