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Schools gain little ground in most recent rankings

U.S. News and World Report released its 2004 rankings of America's best graduate schools, and for the second year in a row Duke received mixed results.

The School of Law, after falling out of the top 10 last year, stayed put at No. 12, while the Fuqua School of Business slipped a spot to No. 7, tied with the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. There was good news, however, for the School of Medicine, which rose a spot to No. 4 after falling two spots last year.

"We are very surprised that the law school's ranking did not improve this year," Dean of the School of Law Katharine Bartlett wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The school has gotten better in so many ways, and it is frustrating that our quality is not reflected in the rankings."

In a message sent to the law school community Bartlett addressed the scoring process.

"As in previous years, 8 schools... are so closely bunched (within 4 points this year), that their individual ranking in this or any year is meaningless," she wrote. "Nonetheless, I realize that perceptions are important and that U.S. News rankings influence perceptions. We continue to do everything that we feel is appropriate to improve the quality of the law school."

Along with the overall ranking for Fuqua, the magazine also ranked several business programs. Duke sat at No. 8 in both management and international business, No. 5 in the executive M.B.A. program and No. 4 for marketing.

Fuqua Dean Douglas Breeden could not be reached for comment.

The School of Medicine tied with the University of Pennsylvania, but continued to trail Harvard University, the Johns Hopkins University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Among the individual departments ranked, physicians' assistants remained at No. 1, geriatrics and women's health fell one spot each to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Internal medicine fell to No. 7, while drug and alcohol abuse debuted at No. 10 and AIDS rose three to No. 7. Duke was also ranked No. 8 in family medicine.

The School of Nursing dropped from No. 27 to No. 29. Its gerontological and geriatric program, however, tied for No. 8 with the University of Michigan.

Although it rose one place, the Pratt School of Engineering remained below the top 30, tied at 33rd with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The school's biomedical engineering program ranked 2nd, only below Johns Hopkins. Pratt Dean Kristina Johnson could not be reached for comment.

U.S. News first published a reputation-only graduate school ranking in 1987. The annual America's Best Graduate Schools report began in 1990. It measures the qualities that students and faculty bring to the educational experience as well as graduates' achievements, which can be credited to their educational experience. The magazine's rankings of specific programs are based solely on the ratings of academic experts.

The magazine did not compile rankings this year for the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It did, however, release rankings for master's programs in the fine arts and education, which Duke does not have.

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