University of Maryland graduate programs in computer science, physics, and mathematics received strong national ratings in a massive evaluation of university science programs issued yesterday by the National Academy of Sciences.
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was the only other school in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia to score generally high in the ratings, which are academia's version of the Academy Awards. But Hopkins ranked below Maryland in two of the three fields in which both were evaluated.
Nationally, the University of California at Berkeley tied for first in four of the six fields rated. The California Institute of Technology tied for first in three fields. Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford had first place ties in two fields each.
The evaluations, which also included chemistry, statistics and geoscience, are the first installment in a five-volume series covering 32 fields in science, humanities, and the social sciences scheduled to appear over the next three months.
The project was sponsored by four major academic groups. It is the first comprehensive evaluation of research and doctorate programs in American universities since a study in 1970 by the American Council on Education.
The new study is based on a survey of about 5,000 senior faculty members around the country, including at least several hundred in each field.
Although the new report, unlike the 1970 study, gives no numerical rankings, it does present average scores on the reputation for scholarship and teaching in each department, which can be used to make comparisons.
By this measure the University of Maryland at College Park ranked 13th out of 57 programs around the country rated in computer sciences, 22nd out of 121 programs in physics, and 23rd out of 114 in mathematics.
All these rankings place it in the B category of graduate schools, which the report calls "strong." This is below the "distinguished" group but better than the categories of marginal, adequate, and good.
In the 1970 study, directed by Kenneth Roose and Charles Anderson, Maryland ranked 16th in physics but received no ranking in any other field because it scored below the top 20 to 30 schools specifically ranked in each one.
University of Maryland president John Toll has said repeatedly that he hopes to make Maryland one of the "top 10 public universities in the United States."
In the new report Maryland ranks seventh among all public universities in computer science, and is tied for 10th among public institutions in both physics and math.
William E. Kirwan, acting chancellor of the College Park campus, said he was pleased but not surprised by the new ratings.
"I knew all three of these departments are strong," Kirwan said. "Math and computer sciences have made strong advances, which hadn't been shown in the old 1970 ratings."
Locally, every university besides Maryland and Hopkins received low or at best low-middle rankings in nearly every field rated.
The only exceptions were Virginia Tech, which ranked 22nd among 91 programs in geoscience and the University of Virginia, which ranked just above the mid-point in physics.