Drexel Advances in ‘U.S. News’ Best Graduate Schools Rankings

The Dornsife School of Public Health was one of the Drexel University schools and colleges recognized in the newest list of graduate school programs published by 'U.S. News & World Report.'
The Dornsife School of Public Health was one of the Drexel University schools and colleges recognized in the newest list of graduate school programs published by "U.S. News & World Report."

In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” rankings released on March 12, several of Drexel University’s schools, colleges and programs made gains in their respective educational categories. The rankings, which use both data and reputational surveys, recognized institutions’ online, full-time and part-time graduate school offerings in areas like business, law, education, health specialties and nursing.

“The improved rankings recognize that graduate-level education and scholarship at Drexel is of the highest quality and that Drexel continues to innovate by providing unique programmatic offerings that meet market needs,” said Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD, vice provost for graduate education and founding dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies in the College of Medicine. “Drexel graduate programs train students to create marketable solutions to real-world problems. Taken with Drexel’s commitment to enhancing the graduate student experience, in and out of the classroom, the rising trajectory in graduate program rankings will secure Drexel’s standing among the nation’s most competitive and innovative graduate institutions.”

For example, the Kline School of Law moved into the top 100 of the country’s best law schools. In the “Law: Trial Advocacy” category, it placed at number 11 this year compared to last year’s ranking at number 15. Earlier this month, four members of the school’s Trial Team won the Regional American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition in Washington D.C.— which is the third time in four years that Dragons have claimed that distinction. At home, the Kline School of Law also made a name for itself by hosting two mock trial competitions: Battle of the Experts, which focuses on the role that expert witnesses play in trials, and Trial by Combat, which allows pre-law students to demonstrate their advocacy skills in a one-on-one competition, according to Kline School of Law Dean Daniel Filler.

“The Kline School of Law’s Trial Advocacy program is among the most forward-thinking in the nation, thanks to the support of our benefactor, Tom Kline, and the tremendous leadership of Professor Gwen Roseman Stern, who directs the program, recruits adjunct faculty and serves as a coach for our Trial Team,” said Filler. “The program features a wide range of courses, including ‘Depositions’ and ‘Technology and Advocacy,’ that utilize cutting-edge tools. The Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy, a historic landmark, has been transformed into an inspiring venue where students can practice their skills in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.”

The Kline School of Law also placed at number 14 in the “Legal Writing” category, number 23 at “Health Law” and number 40 for “Clinics.”

The Dornsife School of Public Health ranked at number 19 among 118 nationally ranked schools and programs of public health. Previously, it had been listed at number 25 among 45 ranked schools. This now places Dornsife among the top 20 public health programs nationally. Drexel is ranked above local competitors like the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Jefferson and Rutgers University. Dornsife’s improvement in national rankings reflects the School’s growing reputation as a center of excellence in policy-relevant research and training, which has been supported by a rapidly growing, externally funded research portfolio and the launching of new and revised educational programs.  

“The School has experienced extraordinary growth since the last round of rankings, reflected in more than 25 new faculty, a doubling of research dollars, a revamped masters of public health and the launching of additional masters and doctoral programs across various public health specialties,” said Dornsife School of Public Health Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD.

Drexel’s online graduate program in education, which is offered through the School of Education and Drexel University Online, jumped 30 spots to rank at number 54.

“We are thrilled that U.S. News has recognized the great progress we have made in the School of Education over the past year in regard to our online education programs,” said Interim Dean for the School of Education Penny Hammrich, PhD, in a statement when the online rankings were released. “We have made solid enhancements to our curriculum and program offerings, as well as expanded our staffing to better meet the needs of our students.”

“By focusing on factors like the engagement between faculty and students, technologies used in the online classroom and student excellence, U.S. News & World Report has recognized what sets an online Drexel University education apart,” President of Drexel University Online and Senior Vice President of Online Learning Susan Aldridge, PhD, stated when the online rankings were released. “Our best-in-their-fields faculty are utilizing groundbreaking technologies to impact classroom experience. Drexel is an institution known for leadership in innovation and technology, and I’m proud that Drexel is recognized for this effort.”

Drexel University Online and the LeBow College of Business also made gains in the “Online MBA” distinction, moving to number 45 from 62. This 17-point growth was attributed to improvements in areas tracked by U.S. News & World Report, like the percentage of graduates with debt decreasing, student interaction with terminal-degree-holding faculty increasing and further engagement with Online MBA alumni.

“We are of course very excited about improving in the ranking but there are other changes in the program that are equally exciting that rankings don’t pick up on right away,” said LeBow College of Business Dean and R. John Chapel Dean’s Chair Paul Jensen, PhD. “One significant change that comes to mind is the fact that two years ago we introduced a new MBA curriculum which is much more flexible and interdisciplinary. We think the new program better serves the needs of our students in a much more dynamic world. We are also very excited about the expansion of our scholarship programs for under-represented minorities. These changes are critical for our students’ success but in the short term are not picked up by most rankings.”

The College of Engineering Graduate Program jumped seven spaces ahead to rank at number 75 of the nation’s top schools of engineering. Additionally, all of its seven departments placed within the top 50th percentile of graduate programs in their respective categories.

“Building on the positive leadership of the College’s former Interim Dean Giuseppe Palmese, and with a new leadership team in place, this strong ranking marks a new beginning for the College and its place among the country’s best engineering schools,” said College of Engineering Dean and Distinguished Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Sharon L. Walker, PhD, in a release published by the College.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs both made notable improvements in rankings, with the former advancing 20 spots to 93 and the latter moving to number 94 from 113. Additionally, its Physician Assistant program cracked the top 10 in its category, jumping three spots from last year.

“The College is recognized as a place that nurtures purpose,” said College of Nursing and Health Professions Dean and Distinguished University Professor Laura N. Gitlin, PhD. “We are changing health care across the lifespan. You see this in where and how our nurses and physician assistants practice, teach and lead. People — faculty, students and community partners — want to be part of what we’re doing to improve quality, accessibility and equity in health care delivery. This is reflected in the gains in our rankings.”

“The nationally recognized expertise of our faculty, a curriculum infused with advanced technology and interprofessional education and measurable outcomes have distinguished our MSN and DNP programs,” said Associate Dean of Nursing and Interprofessional Education Kymberlee Montgomery, DNP.

“We are known for our long history — the ‘grandfather’ of PA programs — and for being mission-driven. We are reaching marginalized people with primary care,” said Clinical Professor and Physician Assistant Department Chair Pat Auth, PhD. “People know we encourage diversity, they know our faculty because they hold leadership roles in local, regional and national professional boards and they know that our students, from their first term, are serving the community.”

Drexel’s achievements in graduate education come just a few months after the University was recognized by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education for placing in its R1 Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity category.