Iowa universities see losses, gains in new U.S. News rankings

University of Iowa College of Law up, College of Medicine down

The Old Capitol Building and Jessup Hall (left) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Old Capitol Building and Jessup Hall (left) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — New graduate school rankings made public Wednesday out of the oft-cited U.S. News & World Report show some improvements, and also some losses, across Iowa’s public universities.

The University of Iowa, for example, saw its College of Law ranking improve from No. 22 last year to No. 20 this year. Its education and nursing programs also saw increases, with the overall education ranking climbing one spot from 43 to 42 and its student counseling and personnel services program, which wasn’t ranked last year, making the list at No. 11.

The UI nursing school, which didn’t have an overall ranking last year, came in at No. 23 this year for its master’s program. Several high achieving UI programs — like the physician assistant program at No. 2, its audiology program at No. 2, and its speech and language pathology program at No. 1 — remain in their top spots.

According to the new rankings released Wednesday, Iowa State University’s agriculture and biosystems engineering program climbed one spot to No. 2, and its College of Education improved its overall ranking to No. 78 from No. 83. University of Northern Iowa’s part-time Master of Business Administration program moved from No. 136 to No. 114, and its social work program, which wasn’t ranked, emerged at No. 198.

But all three schools also saw losses, including UNI’s touted College of Education, which slipped from No. 115 to No. 146.

UI programs and colleges that lost ground include its College of Medicine, in the primary care category, which dropped from No. 16 to No. 25, and in the research category, which slipped from No. 29 to No. 33.

Its clinical psychology ranking moved to No. 25 from No. 18, as did its fine arts ranking, from No. 22 to No. 33, and its social work ranking, from No. 44 to No. 53.


Iowa State losses include its College of Engineering, which dropped to No. 48 from No. 43, and its College of Business, which moved to No. 71 from No. 63.

The U.S. News’ 2017 Best Graduate School edition focused on rankings in business, law, education, engineering, medicine, and nursing, along with specialty rankings in each discipline. The national publication, which many prospective students consult in making higher education decisions, annually evaluates those areas using factors like employment rates for graduates, starting salaries, and test scores of newly-enrolled students, although methodology varies across disciplines.

According to this year’s lists, California has the largest concentration of top-ranked graduate programs, followed by New York and Pennsylvania. None of Iowa’s universities ranked in the top 10 overall in any of the six disciplines.

Big Ten schools that did make at least one of the top 10 lists include Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois.

New UI President Bruce Harreld has spoken publicly about his concerns with the University of Iowa’s slip in overall undergraduate rankings, according to U.S. News & World Report. At a recent town hall meeting, Harreld showed a chart displaying Iowa’s fall from No. 60 overall in 2006 to No. 82 in the 2016 rankings, a drop of 22 points.

UI had held mostly steady from 2010 to 2015, but then fell from No. 71 to No. 82, according to his chart. The graphic also showed how Iowa compares to institutions in its peer group. Only the University of Arizona has a lower overall ranking and has seen a bigger plummet in the rankings — falling 24 spots since 2006, to No. 121.


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