Students considering graduate school may not have to look far for a quality experience.
Virginia Tech continues to be ranked as one of the best graduate schools in the nation according to the 2014 US News and College World Report.
Overall, Tech ranked No. 72 in the country and 28 among public universities. Each major graduate program ranked in the top 100, with School of Engineering ranked at 24 and the Pamplin School of Business at 75.
US News and College World Report rankings are based on expert opinions regarding individual programs and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students. US News gathers peer assessment data by asking deans, program directors and senior faculty to rate the academic quality of programs of their field on a scale of one (marginal) to five (outstanding). For programs in business, education, engineering, law and medicine, they also surveyed professionals who hire new graduates.
The College of Engineering was ranked at No. 25 in 2011 and moved up to 24 in 2012 and has remained there.
“(When I was choosing graduate programs,) I focused mainly on the Civil Engineering Graduate program, and specifically transportation," said Kelly Donoughe, graduate student in the department of civil and environmental engineering. "Even though Virginia Tech was the lowest ranked school of the schools I was accepted to, I liked the professor I was working for, so I came to Tech."
The College of Engineering also had several of its individual departments rank in the top 20 for their respective programs. The Grado department of industrial and systems engineering and the Charles E. Via Jr. department of civil and environmental engineering’s both ranked seventh in the nation, while the biological systems engineering program, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, ranked ninth among biological and agricultural programs.
“Our hands-on, minds-on philosophy of education at Virginia Tech has always been the backbone of our outstanding reputation, one not possible without the immense talent of our faculty, who help guide and work closely with our graduate students,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of the College of Engineering in a VT News post.
“Our students regularly collaborate on ground-breaking research projects, including working to make helmeted sports such as football safer, building a humanoid robot that one day could save lives during a disaster, and other robots that can mimic jellyfish in appearance and action, while helping safeguard the oceans and seas of the world.”
Other notable programs include the aerospace engineering program, which ranked at 15, and the computer and electrical engineering, which ranked at 19. The environmental engineering program — a program under the department of civil engineering — ranked at 13, and the mechanical engineering program was listed at No. 17.
“There is always room for improvement — especially in terms of classes. I think the professors are more focused on research, and that can sometimes take away from learning,” Donoughe said.
The Pamplin School of Business was considered “unranked” in 2011 but tied with Bentley University at 73 in 2012. Pamplin then dropped to spot 84 along with the University of Colorado, the University of Utah and the University of Oklahoma. The rankings for 2014 put Pamplin back at 75.
Business programs are ranked based on a number of criteria, and each criteria is weighted differently. Some of the categories the schools are judged by include peer assessments, recruiter assessments, acceptance rate, placement success and starting salary.
Pamplin’s part-time MBA program ranked 34 for 2014, alongside Colorado State University, Lehigh University and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The school jumped from 37 in 2013 and 45 in the 2012.
Tech also ranked No. 100 for Best Education Schools, No. 28 for earth sciences — with geology ranked No. 13 and paleontology ranked No. 9 — and No. 17 for veterinary sciences.