Justice and Security School Rankings
The ranking of universities and colleges in the US has become a kind of industry of its own! The majority of these rankings focus on bachelor's and master's degree programs at universities and 4-year colleges, or the "value" of the institution as a whole. Currently there is no specific ranking of justice and security programs; however, universities and colleges offering these programs may be found in the annual rankings published by organizations such as US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Forbes, The Washington Monthly and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China. These general rankings are designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate schools and programs according to quality and value. Keep in mind that a number of justice and security programs are also found at the community college level. This doesn't mean there are no rankings to consult for these schools, though! Two main sources of community college rankings are The Washington Monthly and Community College Week.
Schools and programs may also ranked--or at least discussed--by industry-specific publications such as Corrections Today magazine, so do a library or Internet search. If you look online, you can also find less "official" student-based rankings like StudentsReview, and some professional associations (such as the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium or the American Academy of Forensic Sciences) can be consulted for information about various schools and programs. Such associations may also offer awards and honors for teaching excellence, and looking at who they have honored can also be used to supplement your 'ranking' of schools.
Each of these sources, however, has its own particular set of criteria for evaluating schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report (which ranks all undergraduate university and professional programs), the author specifically refuses to disclose his methodology. How then should all these rankings be interpreted?
First, the ranking reports often come with detailed data to support conclusions, and while data collection can be subjective (in the case of student surveys in particular), the editors of these reports usually make an effort to ensure that statistics are comparable. So the reports can be used by you to compare institutions and schools on the basis of the data provided.
Second, the statistics that come from the rankings can also suggest topics that need to be studied in more detail. For instance, these programs often offer field work or internships, but if the graduation rate and employment of grads are low, you may want to ask why.
All university and college rankings have one other thing in common: they are a list of institutions and schools. Scanning the list might suggest a school that you had not considered or perhaps even heard of. Used this way, the rankings can help expand your list of schools that can then be researched in more detail.
However, you should never judge a justice and security program based on rankings alone. Rankings are important, but there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Schools that are less prominent may have a program that suits your needs better than any nationally ranked schools. Lesser known regional universities and colleges can also be a good choice if you wish to remain close to home during your studies. Often times, these schools have a strong relationship with local industries and employers. Once you have accumulated this information, you can create your ownjustice and security school rankings.
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