Michigan in the Rankings
Prospective students often consult published rankings from various media sources as they make decisions about graduate programs. This fall, they have a more thorough and considered resource. The National Research Council has released its survey of research doctoral programs in many fields of graduate study, including English Language and Literature. The survey, which includes information about 120 PhD programs in English, is unprecedented in depth and scope. We’re very pleased that our PhD program’s excellence has been recognized overall and in many specific categories of interest:
- According to the NRC’s assessments of overall program quality based on actual data collected about programs, ours ranks among the top four in the nation.
- Weighted for size and nature of intellectual community —relatively small PhD cohorts and a large graduate faculty—Michigan ranks first among all programs assessed.
- Weighted for research productivity and overall excellence , Michigan’s program ranks in the top six.
- Weighted for funding support for students , our PhD program ranks in the top eight.
- Ranking for the interdisciplinarity of faculty research and teaching in connection with overall excellence, Michigan ranks in the top three.
Considering the Results
Again, we’re pleased that our program’s strengths have been recognized; we encourage you to be thoughtful in using the NRC survey results. Its data were gathered in 2006, and its methodology has been challenged on various grounds. Still, it offers a useful resource for prospective PhD students. Unlike other popular ranking programs, the NRC survey presumes that no single measure—program reputation, time to degree, access to funding, or any other aspect of a program’s life—can adequately account for the excellence of a PhD program, and that no simple numerical ranking can allow for a productive comparison between different PhD contexts.
We encourage you to use the NRC survey data as one tool among many for learning more about graduate programs, to help you think about which might provide the best fit for your interests and needs. Full results of the survey can be accessed on the website of PhDs.org. Useful FAQs about the data can be viewed at the NRC’s information page. At the PhDs.org site, you’ll have the opportunity to consider programs comparatively based on aspects of PhD study and program life that are important to you.
Beyond any rankings suggested by the NRC report, we emphasize that no data set, however robust, can capture the dynamism and distinctive qualities of a vibrant program or its intellectual community—and that nothing can substitute, in a thoughtful application process, for conversations with faculty and current PhD students about your interests and concerns. We invite you to consider the NRC data, and we’re happy to address any questions you may have as a result. Finally, we urge prospective students to use all the resources available to help them assess which will be the most appropriate context for their graduate work.
Want to know more about the NRC?
The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) is a private, nonprofit institution under congressional charter to advise government agencies on public education and policy. In fall, 2010, the NRC released its third report on U.S. research doctoral programs. The report includes data on such issues as faculty publication, student financial support and mentoring, diversity and interdisciplinarity for PhD programs at 212 different institutions across 62 fields of study, including English Language and Literature. Each participating university provided data by institution (administrators), program, and individual faculty. Students in selected fields were also invited to complete questionnaires regarding their experiences. To date, this is the most comprehensive survey ever made of research doctorate programs, including PhD programs in English, in the U.S.
For searchable NRC survey results, see:
For FAQs about the survey, see: