UW Department of Economics and Finance Ranked Highly in National Survey

October 27, 2010

The National Research Council (NRC) ranks the University of Wyoming's Department of Economics and Finance in the College of Business as the nation's leader in faculty research output and eighth overall in research productivity. The review ranked all 120 United States economics Ph.D. programs.

UW's department ranked in the top 10 in overall research productivity and quality along with the economics departments at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of California-Berkeley Economics, University of Chicago, Harvard's Kennedy School and California Institute of Technology. This ranking not only considered numbers of research publications but also external research awards, citations and research grant funding support. On a per-faculty-basis alone, the UW program ranked number one in research publications, topping all other doctoral programs.

The NRC survey comes out only once each decade, making UW's accomplishments even more significant, says Jason Shogren, department chairman and Stroock Professor of Natural Resource Conservation and Management.

"The NRC ranking is the most comprehensive and thorough ranking undertaken this decade by the United Sates National Academy of Sciences. The fact that UW's economics and finance department ranked so high reflects that our long term strategy has worked -- ‘small by design, focus on strength,'" he says. "Our faculty and students have focused on Wyoming issues that resonate around the globe, including environmental policy, natural resources, energy, market organization, trade, finance and economic development."

Doctoral program characteristics are important to use in evaluating factors such as diversity, time to degree, percentage of students who complete the degree and facilities, says Rob Godby, UW associate professor and former department chairman.

"Results are used by external agencies to determine program quality in, for example, research funding decisions. Administrators can use the data to gauge areas of success or necessary improvement and students can use the data to determine their optimal choice of program for study," Godby says.

The rankings validate the department and UW's commitment to internationally-known research and education in economics, Shogren adds.

"The ranking will help bring more scholars, students and policymakers to Wyoming; they will know they can trust our department to provide a creative network, a quality education and sound advice," he says.

The NRC survey focused on research output during the period of 2000-2006. Data for the NRC survey were collected in 2008 across all the country's economics doctoral programs from five sources:

-- Institutional assessment: A survey was completed by colleges describing institutional practices. UW's former graduate school and offices of research and institutional analysis provided the data.

-- Program assessment: This was completed by each program and reported student completion rates, enrollment data and Graduate Record Examination scores.

-- Faculty questionnaires: Randomly selected economics and finance faculty members completed a lengthy survey about the program, their publications and research activities. They also provided curriculum vitae.

-- Student questionnaires: Randomly selected students and former students from UW's economics program also were asked to complete questionnaires.

-- Publication data, citations, external awards and grant funding information was collected from third party sources to identify and verify faculty members' research records.

"Generally, the purpose of the methodology is to determine using a snapshot of data what the general characteristics of the programs are in each of the areas of interest," Godby says. "In addition, 50 U.S. faculty members were identified nationally to provide rankings in economics."

What sets UW's program apart from other economics programs is the specialization in environmental and resource policy, Shogren says.

"Our department has created a synergistic academic setting in which its sum is greater than the parts," he says. In the last 35 years, the department has created a world-class program by pulling together scientists with a common purpose -- how to use and protect our natural resources to provide more benefits at less costs."

The NRC's mission is to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology and health.

For more information, visit the Department of Economics and Finance website or call either Shogren or Godby at (307) 766-2178.

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