Stanford joins Harvard, withdraws from U.S. News & World Report medical school rankings

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:37 p.m.

Stanford’s School of Medicine withdrew from the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of best medical school on Monday.

Stanford’s decision, shared by Stanford School of Medicine dean Lloyd Minor, follows Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) Wednesday decision to withdraw from the rankings, the latest in a series of high-profile boycotts of the ranking system, which has come under increasing pressure.

Minor wrote that the decision to withdraw was made “after extensive deliberation about the methodology with colleagues and members of our community” and that community members believe “that the methodology, as it stands, does not capture the full extent of what makes for an exceptional learning environment.” 

Stanford Law School withdrew from the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings in early December after Harvard, Yale and the University of California Berkeley’s law schools made the same decision. The law school cited concerns over the ranking methodology’s possible distortion and portrayal of the incentives of obtaining a legal education for prospective students.

Minor says the withdrawal is “necessary to lead a long-overdue examination of how medical education quality is evaluated and presented to aspiring students.”

This sentiment is also shared by Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley. Daley released a letter stating that part of the reason why HMS has withdrawn is because rankings do not provide an accurate reflection of the potential of HMS.

“[R]ankings cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education programs,” he wrote. 

While the methodology of the rankings has been something educational leaders have been concerned with, Daley also wrote that these rankings may result in schools reporting inaccurate data and that it may interfere with financial aid for students. There is no ranking methodology that can provide an accurate representation of a medical school because it fails to acknowledge the individual complexities of every school, according to Daley.

The Daily has reached out to the U.S. News & World Report for comment. Though Stanford and Harvard’s medical schools have withdrawn their participation in the rankings, the publication may still use publicly available data to rank the schools.

Minor wrote that the School of Medicine will begin to independently report data about its performance based on its own assessment and methodology on March 1. 

He wrote that the new metrics will “reflect and assess the efforts and accomplishments of our faculty in education, research and patient care as well as the innovation and impact of faculty and trainees on biomedicine and their roles in developing tomorrow’s leaders.”

Judy N. Liu '26 is the Academics desk editor for News and staff writer at The Daily.

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