Times Higher Education ranks UM 18th in the world

Submitted by dnak438 on October 2nd, 2013 at 6:21 PM


  • Other B1G schools: Northwestern (#22), Illinois (#29), Wisconsin (#30), Minnesota (#46), Penn St (#49), Ohio State (#59), Purdue (#62), Michigan State (#83), Indiana (#132), Iowa (#161), Nebraska (#251-275)
  • Future B1G members: Rutgers (#103), Maryland (#108)
  • Former members: Chicago (#9)

Of course academic rankings are normally worthless except that in this case they are clearly correct to rank Michigan as highly as they do. I was most surprised by the low ranking of Nebraska, and second that Illinois is ranked higher than Wisconsin.



October 3rd, 2013 at 8:38 PM ^

No, the school only offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts, both in Art and Design, and a BFA in interarts. There are no specific majors like graphic design, photography, or woodworking although the school has courses in all these areas and you can concentrate most of your sophomore/ junior/ senior years on a single area. All A&D students graduate with either the BFA or BA, although some choose to do a dual degree with another school (commonly Music Theater and Dance, Engineering, or LSA). 

Source: http://art-design.umich.edu/programs/undergraduate and working in the art school. 

MI Expat NY

October 2nd, 2013 at 7:49 PM ^

These rankings are heavily tilted towards research institutions.  60% of an institutions score is pure research, and even a portion of the "teaching criteria weighs towards a higher PhD to undergrad ratio.  An institution like Notre Dame which is nearly entirely geared towards undergraduate education won't fare well.  

Everyone Murders

October 2nd, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

I too am surprised that they are ranked so low (under 250?!).  But wasn't Nebraska's (the "N" is for Knowledge!) admittance into the B1G hampered by this very issue?  For football they are a great fit, but academically Maryland and Rutgers are much closer to the B1G's profile.



October 2nd, 2013 at 6:42 PM ^

If you just be kind and set Nebraska at 250 for giggles, then the average rank of a team in the soon-to-be East Division of the Big Ten is 78.86, and the average rank in the West Division  would be 85.86. Not too far off really. 


October 2nd, 2013 at 6:49 PM ^

Unless you honestly think Penn State is a better school than Brown, or that MSU is a better school than Vanderbilt, this list is terrible and should be disregarded. 


October 2nd, 2013 at 7:06 PM ^

Althought I do agree, its weird, the Times and Thompson Reuters are huge names, so i'm guessing they don't use completely crackpot methodology.  A lot of it probably has to do with research output, something that large endowment universities have a lot more of than smaller endowment ones. 

Edit: upon checking, both Vandy and Brown have larger endowments (~4 billion and 2 billion respectively) than PSU and MSU ( both ~1.8 billion)


October 2nd, 2013 at 7:11 PM ^

Very true.  I'm reading through the methodology given right now here is the breakdown of how each university is scored:

  • Research: Volume, income, reputation (30%)
  • Citations: Research influence (30%)
  • Industry income: Innovation (2.5%)
  • Teaching: The learning environment (30%)
  • International outlook: People, research (7.5%)

So it's pretty clear that the larger/greater output of research a university has, the better the rankings will be.

The full methodology is fairly interesting, if anyone wants to read it:



October 2nd, 2013 at 7:00 PM ^

These tanking are heavily weighted on grad programs and especially faculty research, which makes no damn bit of difference for the undergrad students.  For undergrad, Notre Dame and Vandy are very very good. 


October 2nd, 2013 at 7:13 PM ^

Provides a lot of entry research positions for motivated undergrads.

Volunteered in a research lab my 2nd summer, applied and received for a student research grant through the American Heart Assocation my 3rd summer, co-authored a paper my 4th summer.  Without a doubt helped me into medical school.

Doubtful I would have had the opportunity as an undergrad without the hundreds of millions (at the time) of federal research dollars flowing into the Med School.


October 2nd, 2013 at 7:16 PM ^

True, these should be seen as measures of the institutions as a whole, rather than their undergraduate programs.  However, if you're an going into undergrad, and looking to do a lot of research in undergrad, than these rankings are probably of more interest to you.

Bando Calrissian

October 2nd, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

Question: Who is doing the majority of the hands-on teaching with undergraduate students at most, if not all large research universities? Grad students.

You have better grad programs, you have better undergraduate teaching. You have better undergraduate teaching, you have better undergraduate programs. 

So of course it makes a damn bit of difference for undergraduate students.

Bando Calrissian

October 2nd, 2013 at 8:09 PM ^

Notice I said "hands-on teaching." Aside from upper-level seminars, most courses utilize the large-lecture/small-discussion/lab model. Who teaches discussion sections and labs? Not the profs. Who does the majority of the grading? Not the profs. Students are in the GSI's office hours for grading questions, readings questions, test questions, etc.  For the most part, students have negligible, if not non-existent relationships with actual professors for a good portion of their undergraduate years.

You need good graduate programs and good graduate students to fuel undergraduate learning. And keep in mind graduate students are drawn to universities by professors with similar research interests and great reputations in their fields. 

NOLA Wolverine

October 2nd, 2013 at 8:38 PM ^

That's much more the case in the high school level courses (calc, physics, chemistry, etc.) than in the actual engineering courses. I haven't interacted with a GSI in an ME course outside of having them babysit the clasroom in the design courses during team project work time. Two professors run the machine shop for that course, and the two lecturing professor set aside a considerable amount of time to field questions in that course. I suppose GSI interaction may be more common in premed classes.

NOLA Wolverine

October 2nd, 2013 at 11:55 PM ^

Will you stop having an argument with some dialogue you've created in your head. You took my original question as a declaration of war against your point when in fact I was literally just asking one of the many alums or students around here who were/are in a department that was like that to respond saying so. 



October 4th, 2013 at 12:14 AM ^

I realize I've been out of UM for almost 20 years now, but I had a TON of interaction with grad-student assistants in the EE department when I was there.  Profs taught all of my classes (except for some of the computer programming classes where the languages were too new and the only people that KNEW the languages were grad students!), and I had plenty of interaction with them as well, but if you really wanted to understand the complex homework assignments you spent several hours each week camped out at TA office hours working with a grad-student assistant.   And the homework assignments were usually at least 15-20% of your grade, so if you wanted a good grade that was pretty much required time.



October 2nd, 2013 at 7:12 PM ^

These rankings tend to be better than the US News ones for various reasons. Most importantly, they are based mostly on research, which is how universities make their reputation.

For undergraduate education, Michigan and other highly-ranked schools are often pretty terrible, actually. Sure, it's sometimes cool to have prominent researchers give your lectures, but those folks didn't get where they did for caring much about pedegogy. It's also the case that at least half of your teaching tends to be done by a TA (or GSI, as M calls them), who can be very hit and miss. Most any liberal arts college will end up providing a better educational environment, not that that is actually as important as prestige for most purposes.


October 2nd, 2013 at 8:53 PM ^

But I'd argue that, depending on what you're trying to do with your degree, the quality of your undergraduate education is not nearly as important as the prestige of the degree--in turms of getting a job or getting into graduate school.

For example, I just started at med school at Wayne State, and about half of the students are UofM students, and maybe a third are from MSU, and the rest are scattered from Wayne, GVSU, and out-of-state.

Clearly, the UofM degree is helping students get in (although there is potentially a confounding variable that Michigan students are generally better and thus tend to get better MCATs, etc.), but I would say that the students with the best educations and who were best prepared for med school are actually from GVSU.


October 2nd, 2013 at 7:19 PM ^

Haven't read the article in the link, but Illinois' graduate physics program is super strong. Top 10 nationally, I believe. Also, many of their engineering programs are fantastic. I am not surprised to see them ranked this highly.

PSU has a good physics graduate program too. A while ago, they had Lee Smolin there. He's a bit controversial, but I'd take him any day over Gordon Kane (arguably Michigan's most famous, or infamous, physics prof... and I am all about Michigan but Kane is an embarrassment).

And MSU has the big cyclotron to boost their physics graduate program. They're way better than you would think, on par with the Dukes and Georgia Techs of the world.

All right, that's probably way more than you wanted to know about physics grad programs.


October 2nd, 2013 at 9:17 PM ^

These are always based on academic/research output so that's why the rankings always seem a bit skewed, but I'd counter that the USNWR rankings are equally slanted.  As an engineer and with a focus on research in my day-to-day job duties, I'm more impressed by a school that focuses on production over small class sizes and wealth of majors.  And while it is weird to see schools like Brown below PSU, the assumption that everyone from an Ivy is a genius and anyone from a state school is an idiot needs to die.  Smart people are everywhere, as are idiots.


October 2nd, 2013 at 9:45 PM ^

No way and not explicating away, Dukies. I have worked with enough of you and yours to form valid opinion. Duke has a fantastic community, wonderful funding and skillful marketing, however, actual delivery performance-wise simply does not correlate with the ranking. (You are the superior school within the Carolinas though.)
Michigan is superior in terms of marketplace results than you are, and I see this in my profession as a patent lawyer 24/7/365. Somebody was bakin' brownies this survey, serially.