Colorado State University Doctoral Programs among the Nation’s Best, According to National Research Council

Colorado State University’s doctoral programs in Agricultural and Resource Economics, Atmospheric Science and Ecology are among the top doctorate programs in the nation, according to a recently released report from the National Research Council. Other doctoral programs at Colorado State with high rankings include Biochemistry; Chemistry; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship; Physics; and Statistics.

“We are proud of the quality of our graduate students our programs attract, and I would put them up against any other institution’s students in terms of research and scholarship,” said Peter Dorhout, vice provost for Graduate Affairs. “High-quality doctoral programs attract and keep the best and brightest students at CSU.”

The National Research Council released “A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States” this week. The report assesses U.S. doctoral programs and includes data on more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities across the nation. Programs were evaluated based on 20 weighted variables determined from data collected in 2005-06. Twenty-two doctoral programs at Colorado State were evaluated, and several of the university’s doctoral programs were ranked nationally in the top two quartiles.

The report also offers illustrative ranges of rankings for each program in three separate areas of doctoral education – research activity, student support and outcomes, and diversity.

Among research activity, Colorado State’s doctoral programs in Agricultural and Resource Economics, Atmospheric Science and Ecology rank very highly among universities throughout the nation.

“Graduate students are the heart of a robust, world-class research program. They work closely with faculty, staff and undergraduate students to fulfill CSU’s land-grant mission: training the future workforce and bringing research out of the university to benefit the people of Colorado, the nation and the world,” noted Bill Farland, vice president for research.

Earlier this month, Colorado State announced that the university’s annual research expenditures exceeded $300 million for the third consecutive year, ending fiscal year 2010 at $302.8 million, placing CSU among the top 30 public universities according to a recent NSF report. Since 2006, research expenditures have increased by $35 million.

Research expenditures provide partial support to doctoral candidates. At CSU, 76 percent of all first-year Ph.D. students receive full financial support. Since the study data were collected in 2006, CSU has added an additional 100 graduate teaching assistantships and nearly the same number of research assistantships, totaling 1,680 support positions for 2010.

The diversity of doctoral students in the programs has also grown since the report data were collected in 2005-06, when roughly 8.1 percent of doctoral students were from traditionally underrepresented groups, compared to over 10.5 percent in 2010-11.

The report also included information concerning characteristics of each program, such as the number of doctorate degrees granted over five years, time to degree, percentage of student completion and placement of students after graduation.

Colorado State ranked highly among its peers and nationally with 50 percent of graduate students completing their degree in six years. The average time to degree for Colorado State doctoral students is five years. In the 2006 national Survey of Earned Doctorates, 88 percent of CSU doctoral graduates had a position or were negotiating for one by graduation.

The findings of the report about Colorado State’s doctoral programs follow a recent announcement about CSU’s Graduate School enrolling the largest graduate student class on record, with 1,130 new graduate students attending the university this year. After a record-setting number of degrees granted last year – 1,623 master’s and doctorate degrees – the university’s graduate enrollment of 3,864 is the largest graduate population in the university’s history.

The Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs assessment was designed to help universities improve the quality of their programs and to provide prospective students with accessible information on doctoral programs nationwide.

For a complete explanation of the methodology of the report, visit