Ever since the National Research Council ranked 3,600 doctoral programs in the United States for quality a year ago, scholars have been analyzing the methods the Council used. A recent article in PS: Political Science and Politics examines data in several disciplines and concludes that size skews the quality rankings, giving bigger programs an advantage over smaller ones.
Rochester's political science program, one of the smaller Ph.D. programs in the country, ranked 11th in the National Research Council's report. But when the authors of "Ranking Political Science Programs" eliminated size as a contributing factor, Rochester rose to the number one spot.
Controlling for size throws more weight on faculty distinction, say authors Richard Katz and Munroe Eagles of the State University of New York at Buffalo: "The effects of these adjustments are to move some large departments out of the top 10 and to replace them with smaller departments whose members have earned their reputations without the benefit of mass." Their article appeared in the June 1996 issue of PS.
On Katz's and Eagles' top 10, Rochester is followed by Yale, Stanford, Chicago, MIT, Washington University, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Duke, and Rice. Pushed from the top are larger programs such as Harvard, Berkeley, Michigan, Princeton, UCLA, UC San Diego, and Wisconsin at Madison which were on the National Research Council's top 10 list.
Rochester's political science department has 20 faculty members, making it about half the size of the average department listed in the National Research Council's top 10. The department has a particularly strong reputation in positive political theory and in American politics.