Ranking the Nation’s Black Studies Doctoral Programs

The National Research Council’s ranking of the academic strength of U.S. doctoral programs has not been updated in a decade. In an effort to fill this void, Academic Analytics, a for-profit company, in conjunction with the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has undertaken an analysis of 7,300 Ph.D. programs at 354 doctoral institutions nationwide.

The Academic Analytics study examines such factors as the percentage of faculty who have published a book, the average number of books published by faculty members, journal papers published by faculty, citation counts per faculty member, percentage of faculty receiving grants, average dollar value of grant awards to faculty members, and the number of academic awards won by faculty members.

Academic Analytics then uses a formula combining these factors to produce a Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. It then ranks institutions in 104 different academic disciplines. For example, Berkeley is rated as having the best Ph.D. program in astronomy. Princeton has the highest-rated programs in history, English, and aeronautical engineering. Harvard ranks first in nine disciplines.

There are some major surprises. The top French program is at Indiana University. The leading Ph.D. program in Hispanic studies is found at the University of Kentucky. Penn State has the highest-rated doctoral program in women’s studies, German, anthropology, as well as mass communications.

Academic Analytics also ranked the small number of Ph.D. programs in black studies. Some of the programs ranked in this study are concerned with African-American studies whereas others are strictly African studies.

Harvard, by a large margin, was ranked as the top program among the nine universities rated in the black studies category. Harvard ranked first in books per faculty, citations per paper, total value of grants, and average amount of grants.

In what may come as a surprise, Michigan State University ranked second among the African-American and African studies doctoral programs. Michigan State did not finish first in any category but its overall rating was good enough for second place.

The University of Massachusetts finished third in the rankings of black studies doctoral programs. It had the highest percentage of faculty members who had published a book. Princeton University, which ranked in fourth position overall, was the leader in most of the categories dealing with publishing in academic journals.