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Princeton is best, but Babson is costlier

A look at the US News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges ranking Visy Valsan September 17, 2014: The US News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges ranking released earlier this September is a handy guide for those seeking a degree in US’ elitist universities. The rankings carry data on nearly 1,800 schools and draw a full list of national universities, top graduation colleges, medical...

A look at the US News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges ranking

Visy Valsan

September 17, 2014: The US News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges ranking released earlier this September is a handy guide for those seeking a degree in US’ elitist universities.

The rankings carry data on nearly 1,800 schools and draw a full list of national universities, top graduation colleges, medical schools, law colleges, research institutes etc. with complete information on SAT/ACT scores, scholarships, grants and graduation rates.

Schools listed in US News’ ‘National Universities’ category offer students a full range of undergraduate majors, Master’s and Ph.D. programs. Among the top five in this category (in order of its rankings) are Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Stanford Universities – all of which have a robust student enrollment above 5,000 and average freshman retention rate above 96%.

The report’s rankings also cover the ‘2015 Best Graduate Schools’ where students can pursue disciplines like law, business, medicine, education and engineering, besides a whole variety of specialised courses.

The best B-schools

While Princeton University tops the chart as the No.1 National University, Harvard University (rated second) seems to be the favourite pick among students for its top-ranked B-School, Medical School, Graduate Education School, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Law School and John F. Kennedy School of Government.

This 17th century college located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not only has an extensive library system, which houses the oldest collection in the United States, but also the largest private collection in the world. The US News’ report also reveals Harvard to have the largest endowment (of any school) in the world.

Other top-featuring B-Schools include Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania (started by Benjamin Franklin), University of Chicago (Booth) and MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Northwestern University (Kellogg) in Evanston.

Eminent law schools

Scoring high with an endless list featuring political leaders, US’ law schools are not just places where law is taught but also put to good use. Yale University (Connecticut), Harvard University, Stanford University (California) and Columbia University (Manhattan) all boast of a rich law curriculum that help students achieve their goals.

While Harvard Law School’s well known face is US President Barack Obama, Yale can boast of former US presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton. Former presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, and nine justices who served the Supreme Court of the United States all passed out from Columbia Law School. Full year programs in these schools are expensive and tuition fee often range between $52,000 and $57,000.

M.S. in engineering sciences & research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge is the preferred destination for students wanting to pursue scientific and technological research. MIT’s graduate schools — School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management (also the best place to earn a specialisation in Supply Chain Management) – are highly ranked.

That apart, the school covers exhaustive courses in economics, psychology, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, physics and mathematics. Research expenditures at MIT have typically exceeded $650 million each year, with funding coming from government agencies, the report adds.

Other top schools known for engineering sciences are Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Georgia Institute of Technology. However, MIT and Stanford continue their undisputed dominance as best schools to learn computer and mechanical engineering.

Best medical schools

The US News’ report classifies medical schools into two broad categories: Research and Primary Care. For those looking at pursuing research, Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins University, University of California – San Francisco and the University of Pennsylvania would be the best places to apply. Student enrollments are usually in the range 400-700 and courses cost below $50,000.

Johns Hopkins University has several top ratings for its courses: #2 in AIDS, #3 in Drug and Alcohol Abuse, #2 in Geriatrics and #1 in Internal Medicine. The student-to-faculty ratio here is 5.6:1. According to the report, students can earn a traditional M.D., a Ph.D., or both in about eight years. There are also dual degree programs for an M.D. /M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) and an M.D. /M.B.A. through other university departments.

The Stanford School of Medicine offers master’s degree programs, including biomedical informatics, epidemiology, and human genetics and genetic counseling. Students can get clinical experience in the nearby Stanford Medical Center, which includes Stanford Hospital and Clinics, in addition to the school’s various partner facilities, the report finds.

Other courses

By far, one of the most expensive courses listed in the US News’ report is Babson College’s entrepreneurship course from The F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, which costs a whopping $94,836 per program (full time) and part-time at $1,498 per credit. Other schools like Stanford, MIT and Harvard offer similar courses but for a far lesser price: $56,000 per program (full time). This is surprising because Babson College is ranked only at #65 in the Best Business Schools category led by Harvard.

Babson College offers a host of disciplines like accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, technology and the like. At graduation, 55.4 per cent of Babson’s graduates of the full-time program are employed. Some of the notable Olin alumni include Stephen Spinelli Jr., cofounder of automotive services company Jiffy Lube International and Mir Ibrahim Rahman, cofounder and CEO of GEO TV Network, Pakistan’s most prominent media organisation.

University of Miami, ranked 48 in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges is a well-known research institution where opportunities are said to begin at the undergraduate level. The University of Washington receives a hefty amount of federal funding each year to further its mission as a public research institution. Every year, the school hosts an Undergraduate Research Symposium for students to present their work to the community.

For students scouting for cheaper options and more facilities, head to the University of Texas — Austin — one of the largest schools in the US. The college’s Accounting studies and degrees in Information Systems are highly ranked and also are cheaper especially for international students.

Nirmal Kollara, an Information Systems student with the University of Texas-Austin, says, “Texas University offers one of the cheapest courses among the top choices. Their course fee is just $9,000 per semester and its course in Information Systems is well known. Also, Texas is one of the cheapest places to live in the US. Among Indian students, it features as the top choice, especially students with GRE scores 320+ (out of 340). Most of the students taking this course are Indians. Then come the American students.”

Liberal Arts

The rankings extend to cover Liberal Arts Colleges as well, placing Williams College, Amherst College and Swarthmore College in the top three positions respectively. Most of these schools offer traditional Oxford-style lectures and a rigorous academic environment besides a wide variety of liberal arts programs to choose from.

Also featuring in this list are the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy, which carry no fee and provide cadets with a monthly stipend during all four years they stay at the academy.

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