Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vet School Rankings: University of California at Davis Takes Number One Spot for US Colleges

I'd like to preface this article by asking you to pay no attention to it at all. As far as any of us are concerned, we live in a country with tremendous veterinary education and resources. But since you will surely hear about these rankings--and the change at the top--here's the news.

This is one of those topics that will surely come up over dinner with strangers or when you're asked for advice when someone's child is considering vet school, or perhaps you know veterinarians with strong alumni ties to their old schools who will put great weight on these results.

School rankings mean some things to some people, but they probably don't mean much to you or me. If they were rankings for the equine sections of vet schools, perhaps. Or rankings for the large animal hospitals. That would be different, but we know that so many factors go into formulating the overall rankings of graduate schools, that how well-prepared a veterinary graduate entering equine practice is can hardly be based on these rankings.

But you should be forearmed, as the saying goes, for that zinger that might fly across a table in some restaurant some night, when a client or parent challenges you on how much you know about where the US vet schools fall in order in the almighty US News and World Report university ranking order of the universe.

So, here you go.

What might be more interesting than where a school ranks would be which ones are up and which ones are down. The top ten didn't change much, but there was some shifting in the placings and, inevitably, someone had to shift down if someone else was to shift up.

Cornell lost the top spot for the first time in the history of the rankings. Cornell can commiserate with Harvard, which lost the #1 spot for best MBA program to Stanford. Don't expect it to get any easier to get into Harvard Business School or Cornell vet school after this ranking.

And congratulations to Tufts, for ascending to the top ten. If you want to compare lists, Dr. Patty Khuly has the 2012 list on her blog.

There were no scandalously deep descents. Most of the rankings are separated by fractions of points. Only 1.2 points separated the tenth place school from the first place school and only 2.1 points separated first and last.

The last place school scored well above the report's "marginal" rating.

The new and/or proposed vet schools in California, Utah, and Arizona are not rated in this study and are, of course, the schools that prospective students would need to know the most about.

The rankings are of no value to animal owners seeking help making decisions on where to take an animal for a referral.

Equine medicine is an integral part of each veterinary college in the United States and there is no doubt that all these schools offer excellent education. Some schools are especially known for their equine expertise and the extent of their programs in horse health. On the other hand, other schools are known for individual equine researchers, surgeons or practitioners, even if horses aren't the college's claim to fame. Some colleges are more dependent on state funding than others, and some states are able to be more generous to their vet colleges than others.

We're fortunate to live in the United States; other countries are probably wondering how there could be so many schools in one country, and what it is like to have so many choices in your career.

US News and World Report also has a global ranking system, which combines veterinary science with plant and animal science. Of the top ten universities in the world in that category, they list five as being in the United States. In that ranking, Cornell is the top university in the world, and the University of California at Davis is number two.

The methodology for a ranking system of veterinary programs in Great Britain is quite different and includes a "research power" rank. The University of Edinburgh in Scotland is currently at the top of that ranking, but veterinary science is combined with agriculture and food science to obtain the rank. In Britain, veterinary studies are not a separate graduate undertaking after completing a separate undergraduate degree; the studies are integrated.

To learn more:

US News and World Report 2015 Grad School Ratings
US News and World Report explains its methodology 
British veterinary and ag college list ranked for power of research

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