Why QU law and other schools are dropping out of this popular college ranking

Katie Langley, News Editor

When deciding what college or graduate school to attend, prospective students may turn to college rankings websites, such as U.S. News and World Report. However, higher education institutions, including the Harvard University and Yale University law schools, have recently refused to submit school data to U.S. News and World Report, citing a distrust in its methodology. 

The dean of Quinnipiac University’s School of Law announced in January that the school will also stop participating.

“We believe that we are doing something special at Quinnipiac, but devoting precious administrative resources and sometimes catering to US News ranking methodology distracts and detracts from our efforts,” wrote Jennifer Gerarda Brown, dean of the School of Law, in a Jan. 23, letter on Quinnipiac’s website.

Brown wrote that she informed U.S. News and World Report in mid-January that the law school would no longer provide data to the publication.

Heather Gerken, dean of the Yale Law School, announced in November 2022 that the school will no longer participate in the U.S. News and World Report, though it has scored first among law schools every year for thirty years. Gerken wrote in a statement on Yale’s website that LSAT/GRE scores and grade point averages account for much of a law school’s score, which does not “capture the full measure of an applicant.”

A number of medical and law schools followed suit in pulling out of the rankings, including the Stanford and Columbia medical schools and the Harvard Law School.

To be considered in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, schools must submit data about test scores, grades, employment rates, bar passage rates and resources like librarians and financial aid.

However, the publication weighs traditional academic indicators above resources for students, such as financial aid.

For example, selectivity factors – median LSAT/GRE test scores, median GPA and acceptance rate – account for 21% of any given law school’s ranking, according to the methodology. Faculty, law school and library resources are only weighted at 13%, including expenditures, financial aid, student-to-faculty ratio and library resources and operations, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The remainder of a school’s score is determined by a quality assessment done by other schools, lawyers and judges, worth 40%, and placement success, such as employment rates for graduates, bar-passage rates and average debt incurred by students, worth 26% of the total score.

Illustration by Peyton McKenzie

Brown expressed in her letter that this disparity between scores and support may provide advantages to wealthier students and discourage diversity in law schools, as well as negatively impact students’ mental health.

“Indeed, because US News methodology emphasizes incoming LSAT scores so heavily, it has sometimes undermined our efforts to assess prospective students holistically,” Brown wrote.

Quinnipiac is currently ranked between 147-192 in the Best Law Schools ranking among 192 institutions nationwide. U.S. News and World Report only individually ranks the top three-quarters of law schools. The law school is displayed on the publication’s website alphabetically rather than according to its rank because it is in the bottom quartile.

R.J. Schroeder, senior psychology major and president of the Pre-Law Society, wrote in a statement to the Chronicle that he supports the law school’s decision. 

“(Schools that participate in the U.S. News Ranking) go to events, devoting time and money to promote themselves to peer institutions so they can attempt to rank higher,” Schroeder wrote. “Quinnipiac Law chooses to devote their resources inward toward their students and their success instead of campaigning to other schools.” 

Although Quinnipiac Law pulled out of the rankings, Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan told the Chronicle that the university’s medical and undergraduate schools will continue supplying data to U.S. News and World Report. Morgan did not make any university or law school administrators available for comment.

Schroeder wrote that he thinks that bar passage rates are a better indicator of student success than other metrics. Quinnipiac Law currently lists a 77% Connecticut bar passage rate on its website. 

Morgan declined on Jan. 23, to make Brown available for further comment about the decision to pull out of the U.S. News and World Report.