Harvard Leads an Exodus of Medical Schools Withdrawing from US News Rankings

The nation's top-ranked medical schools have stated they will no longer participate in annual rankings with U.S. News, citing methodological and philosophical frustrations.

Exterior shot of Harvard Medical School building
Harvard Medical School was the first to withdraw from med school rankings. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Medical programs at top-ranked universities across the country will no longer supply data to U.S. News & World Report, following Harvard Medical School’s lead after the school announced its withdrawal from the annual rankings.

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The boycott also comes after multiple high-ranked law schools publicly stated they would no longer cooperate with U.S. News’s rankings. By the end of 2022, law programs at Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and Berkeley pulled out of the rankings, citing issues with U.S. News’s methodology, its focus on standardized testing and its failure to emphasize careers in public interest law.

U.S. News has two separate annual rankings for medical schools, one focused on research and another on primary care training. The 2023 versions of these lists were released last March. On Jan. 17, Harvard Medical School, ranked No. 1 in research, revealed it would no longer submit data to U.S. News. “My concerns…are more philosophical than methodological,” said George Daley, dean of Harvard’s faculty of medicine, in a statement. The rankings fail to reflect the medical school’s missions of graduate preparedness and compassionate patient care, he said. Daley, who said he contemplated this decision for six years, cited the withdrawal of law schools as an inspiration.

A few days later, Columbia University’s medical school followed suit. Medical school rankings “perpetuate a narrow and elitist perspective on medical education,” said Katrina Armstrong, dean of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, in a Jan. 20 statement. Noting U.S. News’ focus on standardized test scores and institutional wealth, Armstrong said the school, which ranked No. 3 in 2023, will find a new way to provide information to prospective students.

Columbia University School of Nursing additionally withdrew from the rankings, according to a letter from the school’s dean Lorraine Frazier, making it the first nursing school to discontinue participation with U.S. News.

Four medical schools announce their withdrawal

Meanwhile, Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford School of Medicine, criticized U.S. News’ methodology while announcing the program’s withdrawal on Jan. 23. “We believe that our decision, along with those of a growing number of peer institutions, is necessary to lead a long-overdue examination of how medical education quality is evaluated and presented to aspiring students,” said Minor. Stanford’s medical school, which placed No. 8, will begin independently reporting data about its performance by March.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine is the latest program to publicly avow the rankings, after announcing its withdrawal today (Jan. 24) in an open letter from Dean Larry Jameson. Citing the recent decisions of other medical and law programs, Jameson described the rankings as reinforcing “a legacy approach to training and a narrow, subjective perception of schools by their peers.” Going forward, the medical school, which was ranked No. 6 by U.S. News, will provide data on its admission website.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, listed at No. 11, also announced it would drop out from U.S. News’ medical program rankings. “For now, our decision to withdraw applies only to the medical school rankings, but we will re-evaluate our participation in other U.S. News rankings over time,” said the school in a statement.

However, not all highly-ranked medical schools are as eager to revolt against the annual rankings. “These academic medical centers made a decision that is best for their institutions,” said Lisa Greiner, a spokesperson for New York University’s medical school, which placed No. 2 in the 2023 rankings, in a statement. “We will do what is in the best interest of NYU Langone Grossman School of Medicine, our students, and our patients.”

The University of Washington’s School of Medicine, ranked No. 9, will continue to evaluate the rankings and its future participation but hasn’t yet decided to withdraw, according to Susan Gregg, a spokesperson for the school.

“Like a number of our peer medical students, we have concerns about the impact such rankings have on the decisions made by students,” said a spokesperson for John Hopkins Medicine, which tied for No. 3 with Columbia’s medical school, in a statement. “At this time, we are still sending information to U.S. News & World Report, but, as we do each year, we will consider our future participation.”

Other top-ranked medical schools, such as Duke, Yale and the University of California, San Francisco, did not respond to requests for comment.

Harvard Leads an Exodus of Medical Schools Withdrawing from US News Rankings