Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

The 2010 NRC rankings of PhD programs in Classics puts Cincinnati in the top nationwide.

The methodology of the 2010 NRC survey

The data were collected in 2005-06 for the preceding 5-10 years. Instead of one absolute ranking the National Research Council provides ranges of rankings for five sets of overlapping variables for each program. They surveyed the faculty about what they think is important and select faculty (including me) about who they think is important. It turned out that in identifying who they think is important select faculty do not accurately apply what the faculty say they think is important (no surprise there).

Instead of just looking at the outcome of who select faculty think is important (the so-called R-ranking, arrived at through regression analysis), the S-ranking (based on the explicit criteria for what is important according to the faculty) and the so-called dimensional (partial) rankings (Research activity, Student outcome, and Diversity) also have to be taken into account. Even if the R-ranking is suspect (it turns out select faculty often just go for size rather than quality), it cannot be ignored, because prospective students and granting agencies will be “wired” the same way as select faculty and go for the bigger programs (of the smaller Classics programs only Duke figures prominently in the R-ranking; Bryn Mawr is the most underrated, Texas the most overrated in the R-ranking). Increased attention to research activity on the part of granting agencies and university administrators, the natural concern of prospective students about student outcomes, and the professional commitment to diversity (even if this is ignored by select faculty in deciding who is important) require that the individual rankings for these three sets of variables are given their due weight as well.


The outcome of the 2010 NRC survey

The most sensible (and statistically easiest) thing to do is to just add up all the ranges of rankings provided by the National Research Council. For Classics and related disciplines (31 programs in all) this produces a ranked list ranging from Stanford (no. 1) to Missouri (no. 31) with Cincinnati at no. 7 after Stanford, Columbia (Classical Studies, not Classics), Duke, Harvard, Princeton, and Michigan (Classical Art and Archaeology, not Classical Studies).

If we look at the rankings individually, Cincinnati is also no. 7 in the overall S-ranking (“politically more correct” than the R-ranking) after Stanford, Harvard, Columbia (Classical Studies), Berkeley (Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, not Classics), Princeton (ex-aequo with Berkeley), and Duke. Basically the same, good company. If we add up the scores for the two programs at Michigan and the two at Berkeley and divide the outcomes by two, Cincinnati did even better than either university – in fact, we did better than any other public university!

In Research activity Cincinnati ranks even higher: we are no. 5 ex-aequo with Duke and after Columbia (Classical Studies), Berkeley (Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology), Columbia (Classics), and Stanford. Interestingly, Harvard is only no. 16 here ex aequo with Michigan (Classical Art and Archaeology).

In Student outcome Cincinnati is no. 8 ex aequo with Duke and after Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, Michigan (Classical Art and Archaeology), Yale (ex-aequo with Michigan), Princeton, and Pennsylvania.

In Diversity Cincinnati is also no. 8 ex-aequo with Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Pennsylvania and after Columbia (Classical Studies – the only perfect score in the entire survey), Bryn Mawr, Columbia (Classics; ex-aequo with Bryn Mawr), Michigan (Classical Art and Archaeology), Yale, Pennsylvania, and Duke.

Congratulations to our colleagues at Stanford, the overall “winner” this time, and in fact to all who participated in the survey – Classics departments usually rank high within their own institutions.