The Two Best Colleges Will No Longer Be Ranked Alongside Other Schools

Yale and Harvard have decided to pull out of US News' annual law school ranking list by denying them access to the data that they base their rankings on.

By Brian Scheid | Published

Yale and Harvard Law Schools have recently made the announcement that they no longer will participate in law school rankings as they both feel that these arbitrary statistical rankings are a detriment to the law community. In the legal community, there is a common understanding that being educated and receiving a degree from a T14 law school gives you a distinct advantage if you pursue a career in law. Historically, both Yale and Harvard have garnered this esteemed ranking.

Since 1990 US News has annually released a ranking report of all the law schools in the United States based on predetermined criteria. T14 refers to the top 14 schools. Yale and Harvard law schools have dominated the top two spots annually, so it raises the question of why would these two top schools want to secede from receiving this distinction.

According to ABC 7 New York, the Dean of Yale’s Law School Heather Gerken stated, “While I sincerely believe that U.S. News operates with the best of intentions, it faces a nearly impossible task, ranking 192 law schools with a small set of one-size-fits-all metrics that cannot provide an accurate picture of such varied institutions, its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.” US news completes these annual rankings for all academic fields from graduate law schools, graduate medical programs, fine arts programs, overall college education, engineering, pretty much every different area of higher education.

Harvard’s Law School Dean John Manning had a similar take on the issue in their announcement and is quoted by ABC 7 New York stating the ranking “undermines the efforts of many law schools to support public interest careers for their graduates.” This is the first time since the inception of these rankings that a school has stepped up and removed themselves from consideration in them. There have been grumblings and complaints from university deans for years about the methodology and grading system and about how accurate they are, but this is the first time a school has taken direct action to withhold the data that US News utilizes to comprise the rankings.

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Yale and Harvard’s play to take themselves out of US News’ rankings holds a lot of weight, especially because it’s coming from two schools that have some of the most clout and power in the country. Yale and Harvard rank in the top two year after year, for good reason as they are known to produce the most promising forward-thinking minds that tend to pace the direction of society. Hence, the fact that they are declining to be a part of US News’ annual rankings speaks volumes about the validity of those rankings.

A few interesting facts about these T14 law schools are that even though there has been movement in the rankings between those 14 schools, it is extremely rare that any of them have been ranked lower than #14. Similarly, it is equally as rare that a school that has never been in the top 14 supplants any of the ones that have been there. Interestingly, the one thing that certainly hasn’t changed is that Yale and Harvard law schools have a solid grip on the top two spots and besides flipping back and forth with each other no other university has been able to pass them up.

The impacts of Harvard and Yale’s decision to remove themselves from this annual list are still to be determined. Questions arise, such as will other top universities in other fields follow their lead? That would serve to hamper US News’ ability to produce these annual rankings.

Or, will this impact an aspiring student’s ability to select the best university for their desired career path? We will have to keep our eyes on it and assess those impacts as the ramifications of this decision play out, but we do know that there will be plenty of debate around this topic in years to come.