U.S. News and World Report Rankings Leaked: George Washington Reportedly Jumps Eight Spots to 20th Position

usn_logo_bigAs with last year, the law school ratings from U.S. News and World Report have been leaked according to Above the Law. It would be good news for George Washington University, which is shown moving back up to the 20th position after last year’s drop due to a change in the method of calculation at the magazine (here).

Here are the ratings:

1. Yale

2. Harvard

3. Stanford

4. Columbia

5. Chicago

6. New York University

7. University of California — Berkeley

7. Pennsylvania

9. Michigan

10. Virginia

11. Duke

11. Northwestern

13. Cornell

14. Georgetown

15. UCLA

15. Texas — Austin

17. Vanderbilt

18. Southern California

19. Washington University

20. George Washington

George Washington succeeded in jumping eight spots after last year’s disaster.

George Washington is also listed as the second best part-time program in the country (after Georgetown) (here and the third best intellectual property school in the nation. It is also listed in the top ten (#6) international law schools in the nation.

In reality, last year was simply an aberration since the school has routinely been ranked 20th or higher in the last ten years in this and other surveys. It was the unexpected change in the methodology last year that hit GW hard and required the school to restructure its reporting data.

For the story in Above the Law, click here.

19 thoughts on “U.S. News and World Report Rankings Leaked: George Washington Reportedly Jumps Eight Spots to 20th Position”

  1. Hey, Georgetown Law also produced Jack Abramaoff (JD 86).

  2. A long time ago GW hired a consultant asking “how can we make the school more prestigious?”

    The report came back with these responses from the school’s leadership:

    1. Hire better teachers? “What? And spend more money?”

    2. Build better facilities and tear down the really old ones? “Again you want us to spend money?”

    3. Be more selective in the students you take. “We are selective already. If you can afford the tuition, you’re in. Any other standard is going to cost us money.”

    4. Make your tuition the highest in the land. “That, we can do!”

  3. Part time GW student here as well. They butchered the night program, saying it was all our fault. I can’t tell you how many people wonder how I can work full time and go part time. It is a brutal lifestyle. Only 2 more years to go.

  4. As a current part-time student at GW Law, and a member of the star-crossed Class of 2011, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that GW moved back up to the top 20, and that we’re still considered the #2 part-time program in the country. It has been noted before that the top 14 ranked schools may change positions a bit, but they never actually ever have dropped out of the top 14. So, basically, every school not in the top 14 is stuck fighting to get ranked 15th or as close to it as possible.
    I also suspect that no matter what happens over the next 10 years, Georgetown will mysteriously never get displaced as the #1 part-time program, either. Unless Harvard or Yale choose to start one up, at which point GWU will mysteriously drop from the top 2.
    Oh well. Hopefully the “employed at graduation” numbers for my class won’t be as horrifying as we all suspect they’ll be.

  5. Chris:

    I could not agree more. I am an evening student as well and I have been in interviews where the dean’s letter scapegoating the evening students was brought up by the hiring attorney. It was an incredible cheap shot. Although my experience at GW has been overwhelmingly positive, they will not get a penny more from me.

  6. Unfortunately, I think it is a mistake to highlight the USN&WR rankings. There is a lot of evidence that they have had a detrimental affect on our higher education. In particular, many schools are highly oriented towards maintaining or improving their rankings regardless of whether the steps they take to do so provide a better, more cost-effective education. To the contrary, because the rankings place such a high value on how much money schools spend per student and teacher-student ratios, schools have spent money to hire additional faculty which in turn drives up the course of the education but may not improve the education provided. If you ask some law school deans at the mid-level schools, they will tell you that virtually every decision they make factors in how it will affect their school’s ranking. This is a bad situation. When you combine that with the current state of the legal economy, there could be very big changes coming in legal education.

  7. Former Fed,
    I agree with you. Myself and many of my fellow night law graduates had to work a full time job while going to law school for 4 years. Anyone who survived that does have dedication.

  8. If I were hiring an attorney–I have not needed one personally–I would consider a ‘night school’ law grad as an extremely dedicated individual. Those people have invaluable life experiences that students who had their 3 years paid for by parents will never gain.

  9. There is always been a simmering controversy at GW Law over the part time (formerly night) program, with the faculty divided into pro and con factions on part time students. So a lot of this has gone on before.


    When the story broke in 1988, we night alums went on the rampage, led mainly by judges who had worked their way through at night. The school was hit with an avalanche of letters.

    QUOTE ON The Night School Controversy

    Divisive issues, while they sometimes put student and faculty at odds, occasionally brought alumni and trustees into the fray. Such was the “night school” controversy.

    This debate wasn’t really about closing down evening classes, although it veered in that direction. It was about whether part-time students should meet the same academic standards as full-time students. Because the standards were allegedly lower for part-time admittees-and most of them attended evening classes-the controversy was misperceived as an attack on the “night school,” rather than as an effort to upgrade standards.

    Long smoldering, the debate over the future of GW’s “evening division” first surfaced in 1978 when a self study headed by Professor Glen Weston refuted a nationwide study that characterized law schools with evening divisions as inherently second-rank, less prestigious than those without. Weston countered that while “evening programs” elsewhere might be substandard, GW’s attracted students who were mature, ambitious, and highly motivated. And in keeping with the times, he noted they also offered opportunities for minority students to enter the profession. Nor were evening students, as some charged, more prone to lapses in professional ethics. Weston wrote: “We have had our Charles Colson (evening), but Georgetown has had its John Dean (day)…of instances that have come to my attention of disbarment, suspension, or conviction of our graduates in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, four have involved day graduates and two have involved evening students.” Moreover, if the school dropped its night students, Weston warned, it would have to recruit 300 more day students and raise tuition by about $1,000 a year. The controversy subsided, but only briefly.

    In January 1980, The Hatchet reported that although faculty denied it, evening courses were seen to be inferior. Professor Harold Green, whose faculty committee was urging an end to them, pointed to the difficulty of recruiting top-flight faculty and of placing night students with major law firms. The perception of inferiority was “deplorable,” he said, “but a very real one.” Only six of the top 60 law schools still had evening programs.

    Weston’s defense apparently failed to convince the faculty. Six years later, they voted overwhelmingly to phase out admissions to the evening division J.D. program. Their decision evoked a storm of protest. An apparent attack on the “night school” brought more than a thousand letters from outraged alumni, spirited testimonials, and angry charges of elitism. The trustees split openly on the issue, and Dean Jerome Barron, caught in the middle, allowed cautiously to The Hatchet that he was “open-minded on it.” Only gradually did the key issue become clear. It was not whether night classes would continue–they would–but whether uniform standards should be applied to all applicants-they should. Once the parties realized that the question was one of standards and not whether classes should meet before or after sunset, they easily “compromised” in favor of uniform standards. UNQUOTE

    Source: http://encyclopedia.gwu.edu/gwencyclopedia/index.php?title=Law_School

  10. Congratulations Prof. Turley and to all of the hard working GW Law Students. Both Day students and Night students! That is from one old night school law graduate from Chicago.

  11. Chris, your sentiments are entirely on point. As an evening student, I felt as if GW Law threw my class under the bus. Other than the $125k in tuition that GW will get from me, I don’t see myself contributing to an institution that initially told me it was committed to “working students” and then used me and my fellow classmates as scapegoats.

  12. I wish the dean hadn’t sent a letter to the entire GW Law community last year blaming the night program — falsely — for the huge drop in the school’s rating. He and everyone else knew that the school dropped because it didn’t fudge its employment numbers while it was going through ABA accreditation. That was a real cheap shot at the second best night program in the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if those night students — almost all of whom are, ironically, employed during and after school — remember how they were treated when GW eventually hits them up for money.

  13. This is excellent news for the entire GW Law community. It only confirms what other surveys with different methodologies have shown:

    From Brian Leiter’s website for rankings of law schools, [quote]


    This is a study that aims to identify the 25 law faculties with the most “scholarly impact” as measured by citations during roughly the past FIVE years. The methodology is the same as used in the 2007 study, though now excluding, per suggestion from many colleagues and as we did last year, untenured faculty from the count, since their citation counts are, for obvious reasons, always lower. [unquote].


    The GW Law faculty is rated in the top 20, coming in at no. 18, up from no. 19 in 2007.

    This is a good corrective to the old US News & WR ratings, and is completely consistent with the newly issued rankings

    GW Law also finished in the top 20 in student ratings.

    VT, JD ’71

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