Spotlight - NRC Rankings of PhD Programs

Dear Alumni, Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

The National Research Council (NRC) recently released its assessment of Ph.D. programs. It included Meteorology, Atmospheric Science, and Oceanography for the first time. The NRC did not release rankings, but instead took a wealth of data for the years 2000-2006 and did statistical analyses. So, while I am sure you will see others try to divine rankings from these results, a more meaningful interpretation is simply to see where we stood compared to other meteorology and atmospheric science programs.

The take-home message is that our Ph.D. program was among the top atmospheric science Ph.D. programs. It is not a surprise, but it is gratifying to know that the quality of our Ph.D. program is now confirmed by the NRC evaluation.

Since 2006, much has changed, including a quarter of our faculty. At the same time, our research productivity and our program diversity have grown. We are now stronger in several of the NRC’s program quality indicators than we were five years ago. Thus, if the NRC were to do an evaluation today, we would fare even better.

The NRC evaluation covered only Ph.D. programs, not our excellent M.S. program that accompanies our Ph.D. program. Nor did it cover our outstanding B.S. program, which is one of the largest, oldest, and best in the United States and produces more B.S. Meteorology graduates than any other program. All of our programs are recognized as being exceptional – a fact that makes us proud.

Having excellent programs that continue to improve would not be possible if not for our fantastic faculty and wonderful staff. They provide the imagination, hard work, skill, and dedication. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have amazing students and supportive alumni! 

We pause for a moment to reflect on the growth and accomplishments of Penn State Meteorology over the past 75 years. And after that moment, we will get back to expanding the reaches of meteorology and atmospheric science, preparing students for emerging careers and leadership, and advancing the well-being of the university and society.

    -- William Brune
    Head and Distinguished Professor,
    Department of Meteorology