NRC: A Data Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs


As with previous NRC studies, the results will include ratings of doctoral programs. However, the methodology has changed.The NRC website states “that the overall quality of a doctoral program is multi-dimensional and that a strictly ordered ranking misrepresents the varieties of ways that programs achieve quality and the varieties of attributes that potential students seek in a doctoral program. Thus, we propose to approach the rating task in a variety of ways.”

Study Methodology

In July 2009, the NRC released thefirst draft of the Methodology Guide. This report was only a description of the methodology and is intended mainly for university staff who wish to understand how the assessment was conducted, and who will be asked to explain the results of the NRC Assessment.

The ratings and weights for assessing the quality of a given doctoral program were identified from the programs themselves. The faculty surveys asked responders to rate what characteristics they believed were important to have in a strong program. The NRC also found the characteristics that were common to the programs that the assessors felt to be strong. The final report shows ranges of rankings for both methods as well as ranges of rankings for dimensional measures.

View the Highlights of the NRC Methodology distributed in July 2010pdf icon

Anticipating the Release

The Graduate School, together with the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, has shared information about the campus' NRC responses and a summary of the NRC study and methodology.

The results are long overdue and the data we submitted are now old. Yet, we believe there is still value in this project.The NRC's goal is to help graduate programs and faculty take an objective look at the snapshot in time the results provide. There is merit in identifying what program characteristics faculty value across fields.The individualized comparisons programs will be able to make with the results should provide good information and benefit us.

It will take all of us some time to review the data before we can comment on the specific results, but the campus will be prepared to address common themes of the study and our response to it when the results are released.

View Dean Steve Matson's August 2009 presentationpdf icon explaining the process and results.

View Associate Dean Stephanie Schmitt's August 2010 presentationpdf icon explaining the current status of the methodology.

Release Schedule

The embargoed version of the NRC results was released to participating institutions on Monday, September 20.The campus held an information session for participating programs on 9/22.View the workshop's presentationpdf icon

The public release and information session will occur on September 28 at 1pm ET. When the embargo lifts, this website will be updated with detailed results and an executive summary that will explain the basics of how the new rating system works.