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US News and World Report Publishes Rankings of MFA Programs

posted by Christopher Howard — Apr 16, 2010

The magazine US News and World Report has just published its rankings of graduate programs in the visual arts, among other fields. The MFA rankings, completed in 2008 but only released this week, are tallied from a “peer assessment survey” of deans and high-ranking academics (two per school) administered in fall 2007. Two hundred twenty programs were analyzed on “academic quality” on a scale of one to five, one being marginal and five being outstanding. (Read more about the methodology.) US News and World Report received a 39 percent response rate from the art schools and programs it surveyed.

The top-ten schools ranked the best overall are:

1. Rhode Island School of Design
2. Yale University
3. School of the Art Institute of Chicago
4. Cranbook Academy of Art
4. Maryland Institute College of Art
4. Virginia Commonwealth University
7. California Institute of the Arts
7. Carnegie Mellon University
7. University of California, Los Angeles
10. Alfred University, New York State College of Ceramics

Read the complete list of the top twenty-five graduate schools in the visual arts and beyond.

Survey results also break down schools and programs into twelve specialties by medium, based on up to ten nominations per institution from administrators and top academics. (It is suggested but not entirely clear if lower-level educators gave the nominated schools a numerical rating for specialties.)

Here are the top-ranking schools for each specialty. Click on the specialty name to see the full ranking for that category:

Since the survey was taken in fall 2007 and compiled the next year, one wonders why it took so long to publish the results. Also, the survey’s criterion of “academic quality” is not defined in the methodology. Further, the impact of the current global economic crisis on higher education (through enrollment, teaching loads for professors, and other issues) seems not to have been considered. Have prospective MFA students, for example, been favoring public institutions over expensive private schools? The survey does not say.

In addition, US News and World Report failed to include graduate programs in art history in its section on social sciences and the humanities—a grievous, unfortunate oversight.

CAA recommends that interested people consult its two directories, Graduate Programs in the Visual Arts and Graduate Programs in Art History, both of which are available for purchase today.

Filed under: Education, Research, Surveys