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U.S. News rankings place William & Mary grad programs among the best

  • William & Mary Law School
    William & Mary Law School
    The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary is the country's oldest law school.
    Photo by David Morrill, Law School Communications

William & Mary’s graduate programs and professional schools continue to place well in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking.

In the 2015 survey, released today, William & Mary Law School climbed nine spots to 24th -- tied with the University of Washington. This is the highest rank ever given the country’s oldest law school by the magazine, which began publishing an annual ranking of law schools in 1990. The Law School’s previous best ranking was 27th in 2005, 2006, and 2011. The Law School was ranked 33rd in 2013.

The school improved in several key categories this year compared to its peer schools, including the percentage of students who had jobs nine months after graduation, the students’ bar passage rate, the quality of the first-year class as measured by students’ LSAT scores and the reputation of the law school among law deans and legal academics.  

Dean Davison Douglas said that the rise in the U.S. News rankings “confirms what we already know:  that William & Mary Law School continues to make impressive strides forward with its terrific new faculty hires, highly accomplished students and alumni, and an increasingly rich array of educational opportunities such as legal clinics and externships.”  

According to Douglas, U.S. News rankings are only one yardstick of a school’s vitality. Other strong indicators of William & Mary’s upward trajectory include the record-breaking $3.58 million raised during the school’s FY 2013 fundraising campaign and the recent establishment of new clinics devoted to appellate litigation, elder law, and Virginia coastal policy.  During the fall of 2013, for example, five students in the Law School’s Appellate Litigation Clinic briefed and argued constitutional law cases in U.S. Courts of Appeals across the nation, so far winning two of those cases.  Moreover, the Law School’s Veterans Benefits Clinic continues to capture prominence as a national leader in providing legal assistance to wounded veterans.

The William & Mary School of Education (SOE) also remained in the top 40, ranking 39th among the nation’s education schools. They tied with Florida State and Rutgers – New Brunswick. SOE placed well in the administrators and experts assessment category, scoring 4.3 out of 5.

“It is particularly noteworthy that the SOE continues to be among the top schools of education in the United States, while also being one of the smallest,” said Spencer G. Niles, dean of the School of Education. “This provides a learning context in which students and faculty are highly engaged collaboratively and in which everyone’s effort matters. We look forward to new initiatives that will continue to place the SOE among the very best in the nation.”

In February, the William & Mary school psychology program received continuing national accreditation from the National Association for School Psychology. Additionally, since last July, the School of Education received over $2.6 million in new grants. These grants support a broad scope of programs that impact both William & Mary students and K–12 students and teachers across the state. The programs included VA Education for the Homeless, Operation Pride, School University Research Network (SURN) Visible Leaders, Principals Academy and a Williamsburg-James City County Student Intern.

Last year the School of Education saw the largest jump within the survey in its history, ranked 32nd tied with Purdue, the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa and the University of Pittsburgh. The school ranked 43rd in 2012 and 41st in 2011. In 2010, the program jumped nine spots from 48th to 39th following the opening of its new facility.

William & Mary’s Mason School of Business saw a jump in the ranking of their part-time MBA program, rising 12 spots to 57th in the survey.

U.S. News & World Report annually ranks graduate and professional school programs in education, law, medicine, engineering and business using a variety of scoring categories, such as peer assessments, student/faculty ratios and funding for faculty research.

Highlights of the graduate school rankings are scheduled for publication in the 2014 issue of The Best Graduate Schools guidebook which will be available for purchase in April. A complete list of the rankings is also available online.