Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, remains first in quality among oceanography, atmospheric sciences and meteorology doctoral programs nationwide, according to an extensive study released today by the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington, D.C.
The report evaluates the quality and effectiveness of more than 5,000 doctoral programs across the country.
"The top measure of the caliber of an academic institution is the quality of its people," said Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and vice chancellor for marine sciences at UC San Diego. "This reaffirms our position as the national leader in ocean and earth science, a well-deserved testament to our dedicated scientists."
The assessment reviewed U.S. doctoral programs and includes data on programs in 62 fields at 212 American research universities. This marks the second time the survey evaluated graduate programs in oceanography; in 1995, Scripps was ranked first by the National Research Council. The current ranking was determined by UC San Diego's midpoint methodology.
In this NRC study, UC San Diego ranked second compared to all public institutions in the nation, and 11th compared to all public and private institutions. A total of five of its graduate programs were ranked in the top five in their fields. In addition to Scripps' top ranking, UCSD's Biological Sciences and Bioengineering were rated first nationwide in their fields.
Douglas Bartlett, chair of the department at Scripps Oceanography, said Scripps' outstanding faculty are a direct result of a University of California procedure that new faculty be recruited by a search committee comprised of their peers.
"Our world-renowned scientists attract the very best colleagues. Our recruiting efforts have been very successful," Bartlett said. "We have focused on recruiting and retaining the best people in their fields and obviously we have done a good job. We are very proud of this recognition from the NRC and our peers."
"Although we are proud to be ranked at the very top again, we recruit our stellar faculty and postdocs from the entire pool of the nation's ocean and earth science universities and programs," Haymet said. "So we share this distinction with our collaborating institutions around the country."
The study was launched in 2005 by the National Research Council's Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs. The National Research Council, established in 1916, is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.
The NRC collected data from the academic year 2005-06 covering 20 program characteristics that served as the basis for two illustrative ranges of rankings of overall program quality. The two versions of rankings, regression-based (R) and survey-based (S), produced 500 distinct rankings for each program. The ranges of rankings reported in the NRC assessment represent the middle 90 percent of each set of 500 program rankings.
Though both approaches yielded similar results, UC San Diego chose to focus on the R ranges of rankings, derived by using faculty valuations of program quality to determine the relative importance of each of the 20 program characteristics, as the best way to offer a snapshot of the university's position compared to other institutions. To generate specific program rankings, the midpoint of the R range of rankings was taken for each program and then these midpoints were ranked within each field.
The study is a follow-on to the 1995 Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States. In that report, the NRC ranked Scripps number one in the field of oceanography.
Founded in 1903, Scripps is one of the oldest and largest centers for global science research and graduate training in the world. Hundreds of research projects are now conducted at Scripps aimed at gaining a comprehensive understanding of the oceans, atmosphere and structure of the earth for the benefit of society and the environment. In addition to oceanography, atmospheric sciences and meteorology, Scripps research areas include marine biology, coastal studies, climatology, fisheries resources, plate tectonics, marine geology, seismology and the chemistry and circulation of the oceans.
The Scripps main campus is located on 170 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, California. The institution has a staff of about 1,300 people and offers training to about 240 graduate students. Scripps operates a fleet of four research ships. An additional research vessel, the "Ocean Class" ship AGOR 28 recently awarded to Scripps by the U.S. Navy, will join Scripps' research fleet in 2016. Scripps scientists have sailed more than six million nautical miles in pursuit of knowledge about the ocean.