Department of Political Science
2115 G St. NW, Monroe Hall 440
Washington, DC 20052

Phone: (202) 994-6290
Fax: (202) 994-1974
polsci@gwu.edu


Department Excels in New NRC Rankings

GW's Political Science Department joined the ranks of top programs in the most comprehensive ranking of doctoral programs.

The National Research Council (NRC) conducted an extensive study of 5,004 doctoral programs in 212 universities. In political science, they studied 106 programs. The NRC examined 20 factors including faculty publications, citations, grants, faculty diversity, graduate student GRE scores, financial support, publications, and placement of students. The NRC also surveyed a sample of faculty to assess the importance of these 20 indicators in judging programs and to create a perception-based rating based on the faculty's appraisal of a sample of programs. Using these data, the NRC created two sets of rankings: survey-based and regression-based.

In the survey-based rankings, GW's political science program earned a ranking of 24th in the nation. The survey-based rankings are based on the weight faculty assigned to the 20 characteristics. Faculty were asked to assess which of these factors were most important in judging program quality. Here, four stand out: faculty publications, citation of faculty research, awards per faculty, and placement of students in academic positions. The resulting survey-based rankings depend on a program's strength in the characteristics that faculty thought were most important.

GW's political science program earned a regression-based ranking of 24th in the nation. The regression-based rankings are based on weights given to characteristics of programs that faculty rated as outstanding in their discipline. Of the 20 factors studied by the NRC, four were especially linked to programs that were well-regarded by faculty: citation of faculty research, awards per faculty, graduate student GRE scores, and the number of Ph.D.s granted. The resulting regression-based rankings indicate the strength of a program compared to programs that are perceived to be strong.

Although all ranking systems inevitably gloss over important programmatic differences, the department's success reflects the University's commitment to building top-tier doctoral programs and the hard work of both faculty and students. In the early 1990s, the University hired Lee Sigelman to chair the department, giving him a mandate to build a top-tier program. New faculty members were aggressively recruited and, once hired, were encouraged to focus on their research and publication. An atmosphere of collegiality was nurtured, and collaboration was encouraged. A haphazard pattern of publication was replaced by a more focused effort at placing works in the top journals and with high quality academic presses. Sigelman's vision for an elite department has culminated with the leap since the last NRC rankings, released in 1995, when the department ranked 47th.

This vision of a top-ranked political science program was advanced by the GW Board of Trustees' decision to support programs in selected areas where the University's academic excellence was recognized. This support strengthened our graduate program. Over the past decade, the GRE scores of our incoming students have increased, and students regularly receive external grants to support their research and publish their research findings in scholarly journals. Students have also succeeded in finding academic positions after graduation.

Important Factor Survey-Based  

Reputation Regression-Based  

Combined Ranking   

Stanford

Harvard

Harvard

Harvard

Michigan

Stanford

Michigan

UC_Berkeley

Michigan

NYU

Stanford

Columbia

Penn State

Columbia

NYU

Rice

Yale

Yale

Columbia

Chicago

UC-San Diego

Princeton

NYU

Princeton

Yale

UC-San Diego

Chicago

UC-San Diego

Princeton

UC-Berkeley

MIT

North Carolina

MIT

SUNY Binghamton

UCLA

Penn State

Chicago

Maryland

North Carolina

Pittsburgh

Duke

Duke

Duke

Ohio State

Washington

Washington University

MIT

Rice

UC-Davis

Wisconsin

Wisconsin

North Carolina

Washington

UCLA

Washington

Cornell

Pittsburgh

Indiana

Southern Cal

Ohio State

Rochester

Minnesota

Washington University

Florida State

Georgetown

UC-Davis

UC-Berkeley

Penn State

SUNY Binghamton

GW

GW

GW

Illinois

Washington University

Illinois

Cornell

Note: These rankings are based on the revised data, which were released in April 2011. The original data were released in September 2010.

Program rankings contain considerable uncertainty. We simply cannot statistically distinguish many departments from one another. Indeed, perhaps too much is made about specific ranks, even though no one department is clearly the "best" and many departments are very similar. To account for this uncertainty, the NRC estimated the weights' coefficients 500 times on random half samples, which generated percentile rankings (the NRC reported the 5th and the 95th percentiles). The tables above list programs based on the midpoint between these percentiles.

These rankings reinforce the recognition that the department has received in recent appraisals of political science programs. For instance, a ranking of public law programs placed GW's judicial politics program first in the nation. Further evidence comes from a survey by a team of international relations scholars at the College of William and Mary. Their ratings, based on responses from more than a thousand faculty members, placed Martha Finnemore 4th and University Professor Michael Barnett 6th among scholars seen as doing the most interesting work in recent years as well placing Finnemore 11th among scholars whose work influences the research of international relations scholars.

Moving forward, the University has an ongoing commitment to strengthening the department. In recent years, the department has added a number of new faculty members who build on our strengths. In addition to several outstanding junior faculty, GW hired Michael Barnett (formerly of the University of Minnesota), Charles Glaser (formerly of the University of Chicago), and Marc Lynch (formerly of Williams College) in International Relations, Henry Hale (formerly of Indiana University) in comparative politics, and Brandon Bartels (formerly of Stony Brook University) in American politics and methodology.

ยป TRIP Survey of International Relations Faculty