School moves up in U.S. News & World Report rankings
Sargent College’s reputation continues to grow as evidenced by U.S. News & World Report’s graduate school rankings, released last week. All three of the school’s graduate programs placed in the top 25 nationwide. BU is the only New England university to earn that distinction.
The college’s physical therapy program advanced the most, from 24th to 16th out of 201 programs. Speech, language, and hearing sciences rose four places, to 21st out of 250 programs. And occupational therapy retained its rating from last year, coming in 2nd out of 156 programs.
“We’re getting increased recognition for our programs,” says Gloria Waters, a professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences and dean of Sargent. “People see them as high-quality, and they’re extremely attractive to students.”
U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for health fields are based on peer assessments and often influence where students will apply to graduate school. But recent rankings don’t fully explain why the college has seen what Waters calls a “dramatic increase” in applications.
Over the past several years, hundreds of students have applied to fill the 30 spots in each of the graduate programs. Waters says this is partially because the college moved to a common online application two years ago, making the process easier for students. Another factor is the economy: Sargent students are graduating into professions with high levels of employment.
In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked all three professions—physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech language pathologist—among its Top 25 Best Jobs of 2012. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-2011) has predicted that employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase 23 percent and that of physical therapists by 27 percent from 2006 to 2016.
Waters credits new faculty and awards for the jump in rankings of physical therapy and speech, language, and hearing sciences. The college has nearly doubled its research funding since 2007, to $9.3 million. Almost all tenured faculties receive federal grants for their work. And the college was awarded a grant of $4 million recently from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to establish BU’s Center for Enhancing Activity and Participation among Persons with Arthritis (ENACT). That is in addition to the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation; Sargent’s other long-standing NIDRR-funded center.