Just months before the first students arrive at the Health Education Campus (HEC) of Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic, the university’s largest school received welcome news from U.S. News & World Report.
It stands as the nation’s 24th-ranked research medical school this year, one spot higher than it has been for the past three years.
The medical school includes both a university program and one at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Lerner College offers a tuition-free physician-scientist program that accepts 32 students per year; in 2018, the university’s MD and MD/PhD program classes totaled 182. Both programs will be in the HEC, along with students from the university’s nursing and dental schools. Students from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences will continue to participate in interprofessional education programs with the students at the HEC, but will continue with other courses in their recently renovated and expanded building on the main campus.
The Mandel School’s ranking was among other university highlights this year, as it stayed at No. 9 among the nation’s social work programs. In addition, the part-time MBA at the Weatherhead School of Management climbed eight spots, to stand at 22nd this year.
From there, the rankings become decidedly more mixed, and in several instances, more than a little confounding. Consider as one example the Weatherhead School of Management’s full-time Master of Business Administration degree. Two years ago, it stood at 77th in the country. Last year, it was 55th. And this year, it’s back in the 70s, at 74th.
The only full-time MBA methodology changes over three years where the annual rankings varied by about 20 slots? For today’s number, the magazine added the Graduate Record Examination analytical writing score to the quantitative and verbal scores. The previous year, the magazine mildly tweaked the recruiter ranking category.
Then look at the 2019 positions of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees: They fell by 10 and eight slots—to 16th and 13th, respectively—even though the master’s program’s total score slipped by fewer points than the DNP’s total.
The Case School of Engineering, meanwhile, dropped from 50th to 52nd this year, even though its total score increased from 2018. The law school also had the same score as last year, but fell six slots, to 71st. And medicine, which enjoyed the one-notch bump in 2019? Its total score actually fell by four points.
As for the master’s program in social work and part-time MBA that did so well? Their rankings rely on only one criterion: the rating that the respective school deans give to those programs.
For engineering specialties, department chairs vote; these leaders’ ballots put Case Western Reserve’s biomedical engineering program at No. 18 for the second year in a row.
Law school specialties’ voting, meanwhile, saw a major change in its reputational methodology, one that significantly broadened the number of schools ranked in each area—from 20 or fewer to as many as 170 schools. The shift modestly affected health law—falling from fifth to ninth—and international law—which dipped from 14th to 19th. Intellectual property, however, took a larger tumble, going from 20th to 41st.
But then there is the story of Widener University, which this year received two health law rankings—56th and 86th —in U.S. News’ initial release. Perhaps that is one reason why several other publications have launched their own rankings measures. PreLaw magazine, for example, assesses specialties using solely objective categories, and Case Western Reserve’s health law program was one of just seven schools to earn an A+ in health law, and one of 12 to earn the top mark in international law. (The magazine does not have an exact corollary to intellectual property law.)