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Does PhD pedigree matter?

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 Choosing a School for PhD

This post is inspired in large part by discussion over at Cosmic Variance about the importance of choice of particular graduate school and pedigree effect. Two extreme points of view are: a) pedigree matters a great deal, having a top school name on your resume will enhance your chances of getting a job and b) pedigree effect is non-existent, and if you are smart and do good science, it doesn’t matter where your degree is from. Additional discussion centered on issue of difficulty of “upward” mobility – which means that most people tend to get positions down the ranking ladder from their PhD institutions, not up.
It’s of course difficult to do proper “controlled” measure of pedigree effect – maybe students selected by top program would do just as well in lower ranked programs, who knows.
So let’s ask a different question – how many of the academic jobs in top research universities go to PhDs from the top programs? Ideally one would want to focus on recent hires only, looking at entire faculty makeup means integrating over the past50 or 60 years, with a big hiring spike in sputnik/cold war years. One way to address this issue is to look only at associate and assistant professors, which typically represent recent hires. Another, possibly better, way is to limit by the years of PhD (say count only PhDs obtained past 1995), but it involves more work. I spent about 4 hours compiling the data, and not sure I want to spend much more on this, even though it is a lot of fun and I am a sucker for playing with numbers.
So here’s the statistics, and I will criticize methods later – AIP graduate program listings, which I believe are compiled in 2005-2006 list 636 professors in the top 50 institutions (I used NRC’95 rankings) in associate or assistant rank. Typically their PhD years span about 12-15 year period from about 1990 till ~2003-2004. 162 of them have foreign PhDs (more on that later) and 472 held PhDs from US. More than half of those hires have PhDs from just 8 institutions: Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Berkeley, Chicago, Stanford, Caltech and Cornell. The effect is larger than I expected, but perhaps not completely unexpected.
Below are the institutions that have 3 or more PhD graduates among 636 assistant/associate rank professors in the top 50 physics programs:

Harvard University

Princeton University

MIT

Univ. of California-Berkeley

University of Chicago

Stanford University

CALTECH

Cornell University

University of Michigan

Columbia University

University of Minnesota

Univ of California-San Diego

Univ of CA-Santa Barbara

Univ of Il Urbana-Champaign

University of Washington

Yale University

SUNY-Stony Brook

University of Texas at Austin

Univ of Wisconsin-Madison

Johns Hopkins University

University of Pennsylvania

University of Rochester

Univ of California-Los Angeles

Univ of Maryland College Park

Northwestern University

Rice University

University of Colorado

Boston University

Indiana University

Rutgers -New Brunswick

Brandeis University

Duke University

Purdue University

42

39

34

32

29

28

26

22

14

13

11

9

9

9

9

9

8

8

8

7

7

7

6

6

5

5

5

4

4

4

3

3

3

Foreign degrees are more scattered all over the world, but here’s some strong contributors:

MoscowCambridgeOxford

Munich

Toronto

Vienna

Warsaw

15128

8

8

3

3

Top 10 universities contribute 59% of US PhD hires, those ranked 11-20 provide another 18%, the next ten ranked 21-30 provide 10%, and ALL of the remaining US universities contribute remaining 12% or so.

More charts like:

Percentage of PhDs that goes on to become faculty at top 50 universities.

Comparison ranking in terms of total PhD hires and ranking of USNews and NRC.

and the complete article is available at Incoherently Scattered Ponderings

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World University Rankings

harvard.jpgHarvard

1 Harvard University
2 University of Cambridge
3 University of Oxford
4Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4Yale University
6 Stanford University
7 California Institute of Technology
8 University of California, Berkeley
9 Imperial College London
10 Princeton University
11 University of Chicago
12 Columbia University
13 Duke University
14 Peking University
15 Cornell University
16 Australian National University
17 London School of Economics and Political…
18 Ecole Normale Supérieure
19National University of Singapore
19University of Tokyo
21 McGill University
22 University of Melbourne
23 Johns Hopkins University
24 ETH Zurich
25 University College London (UCL)
26 University of Pennsylvania
27 University of Toronto
28 Tsing Hua University
29Kyoto University
29University of Michigan
31 University of California, Los Angeles
32 University of Texas at Austin
33 University of Edinburgh
33 University of Hong Kong
35University of Sydney
35Carnegie Mellon University
37 École Polytechnique
38 Monash University
39 University of Geneva
40 University of Manchester
41 University of New South Wales
42 Northwestern University
43 New York University
44 University of California, San Diego
45 University of Queensland
46 King’s College London
46 University of Auckland
48University of Rochester
48Washington University in St. Louis
50Chinese University of Hong Kong
50University of British Colombia
52 Sciences Po Paris
53 Vanderbilt University
54Brown University
54University of Copenhagen
56 Emory University
57 Indian Institute of Technology
58Hong Kong University of Science & Techno…
58Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
60 Case Western Reserve University
61Nanyang Technological University
61Dartmouth College
63 Seoul National University
64University of Bristol
64Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne…
66 Boston University
67 Eindhoven University of Technology
68 Indian Institute of Management
69 University of Amsterdam
70School of Oriental and African Studies
70Osaka University
72 Ecole Normale Supérieure Lyon
73 University of Warwick
74 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
75 University of Basel
76 Catholic University of Louvain
77 University of Illinois
78 University of Dublin, Trinity College
79University of Otago
79University of Wisconsin
81 University of Glasgow
82Macquarie University
82Technische Universität München
84 University of Washington
85 University of Nottingham
86 Delft University of Technology
87 University of Vienna
88 University of Pittsburgh
89 University of Lausanne
90University of Birmingham
90 Leiden University
92 Erasmus University Rotterdam
93Lomonosov Moscow State University
93Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie
95 Utrecht University
96 Catholic University of Leuven
97 Wageningen University
98 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
99Queen Mary, University of London
99Pennsylvania State University
101 University of Southern California
102Georgetown University
102University of Sheffield
102Rice University
105Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
105University of Adelaide
105University of Sussex
108 National Taiwan University
109University of St Andrews
109University of Zurich
111Wake Forest University
111University of Maryland
111University of Western Australia
111Uppsala University
115 University of Twente
116Fudan University
116University of Helsinki
118 Tokyo Institute of Technology
119 Hebrew University of Jerusalem
120 Keio University
120Université libre de Bruxelles
121 University of Leeds
122 Lund University
123 University of North Carolina
124University of Massachusetts, Amherst
124University of York
126 University of Aarhus
127 Purdue University
128Kyushu University
128Nagoya University
130University of Virginia
130Tufts University
132 Durham University
133University of Alberta
133Vrije University Brussels
133University of Newcastle upon Tyne
133Hokkaido University
137 Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
138 Vienna University of Technology
139 University of Liverpool
140 Cranfield University
141 University of California, Santa Barbara
141University of Ghent
141Cardiff University
141University of Southampton
145 Georgia Institute of Technology
146 RMIT University
147Tel Aviv University
147Chalmers University of Technology
149 Freie Universität Berlin
150Texas A&M University
150Korea University
152 University of Notre Dame
153 University of Bath
154 City University of Hong Kong
155 McMaster University
156Universität Göttingen
156Curtin University of Technology
158Waseda University
158Universität Ulm
158Technion – Israel Institute of Technolog…
161Chulalongkorn University
161Université Louis Pasteur – Strasbourg I
163 Michigan State University
164 Saint-Petersburg State University
165Université libre de Bruxelles
165University of Science and Technology of …
165State University of New York at Stony Br…
168Tohoku University
168George Washington University
170Universität Tübingen
170University of California, Davis
172University of Maastricht
172Yeshiva University
172Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochsc…
172Royal Institute of Technology
176 Queen’s University
177 University of Oslo
178 University of Bern
179 Shanghai Jiao Tong University
180 Nanjing University
181Kobe University
181University of Montreal
183Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
183Jawaharlal Nehru University
185 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
186 University of Innsbruck
187 University of Minnesota
187 Universität Frankfurt am Main
187 Brandeis University
190 University of Barcelona
190University of Reading
192University of Malaya
192Queensland University of Technology
194 Technical University of Denmark
195 University of Aberdeen
196 University of Wollongong
197 Università degli Studi di Roma – La Sapi…
198University of California, Irvine
198Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Te…
200 Universite Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

You may also be interested to check

Rankings

English Program Ranking

Ranking of English Programs (5 = highest)

1. Harvard University (MA) 4.8
Stanford University (CA) 4.8
University of California – Berkeley 4.8
Yale University (CT) 4.8
5. University of Chicago 4.7
6. Cornell University (NY) 4.6
Princeton University (NJ) 4.6
8. Columbia University (NY) 4.5
Johns Hopkins University (MD) 4.5
10. University of Pennsylvania 4.4
11. University of California – Los Angeles 4.3
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 4.3
University of Virginia 4.3
14. Brown University (RI) 4.2
15. Duke University (NC) 4.1
University of California – Irvine 4.1
17. University of Wisconsin – Madison 4.0
18. Northwestern University (IL) 3.9
Rutgers State University – New Brunswick (NJ) 3.9
University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign 3.9
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 3.9
University of Texas – Austin 3.9
23. Indiana University – Bloomington 3.8
University of Washington 3.8
25. New York University 3.7
26. CUNY Graduate School and University Center 3.6
27. Pennsylvania State University – University Park 3.5
University of Iowa 3.5
Vanderbilt University (TN) 3.5
30. Emory University (GA) 3.4
University of California – Davis 3.4
University of California – Santa Barbara 3.4
University of Pittsburgh 3.4
34. Claremont Graduate School (CA) 3.3
Ohio State University – Columbus 3.3
Rice University (TX) 3.3
University of Maryland – College Park 3.3
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 3.3
39. Brandeis University (MA) 3.2
University at Buffalo (NY) 3.2
University of California – San Diego 3.2
University of California – Santa Cruz 3.2
University of Massachusetts – Amherst 3.2
University of Southern California 3.2
Washington University in St. Louis 3.2
46. Tufts University (MA) 3.1
University of Arizona 3.1
University of California – Riverside 3.1
University of Florida 3.1
University of Illinois – Chicago 3.1
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee 3.1
52. University of Colorado – Boulder 3.0
University of Notre Dame (IN) 3.0
54. Boston University 2.9
Michigan State University 2.9
Tulane University (LA) 2.9
University of Oregon 2.9
University of Rochester (NY) 2.9
59. Texas A&M University – College Station 2.8
University of Kansas 2.8
University of Utah 2.8
62. Binghamton University (NY) 2.7
Boston College 2.7
Miami University – OXford (OH) 2.7
Purdue University – West Lafayette (IN) 2.7
SUNY – Stony Brook 2.7
University of Connecticut 2.7
University of Delaware 2.7
University of Georgia 2.7
University of Kentucky 2.7
71. Fordham University (NY) 2.6
Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge 2.6
Syracuse University (NY) 2.6
Temple University (PA) 2.6
University of Missouri – Columbia 2.6
University of Nebraska – Lincoln 2.6
University of Oklahoma 2.6
University of Tennessee – Knoxville 2.6
79. Arizona State University 2.5
George Washington University (DC) 2.5
University of New Mexico 2.5