Harvard and Yale officials said Wednesday they would withdraw their law schools from the U.S. News & World Report rankings, a seismic shift in the college ranking system.
In separate statements, leaders from the two programs said they believed the rankings — which are used by students to select schools and by the colleges to entice applicants — were unreliable and “profoundly” flawed.
“They disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken said in a statement Wednesday. “We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate.”
Harvard followed suit. The law school dean, John Manning, said it had become “impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect.”
“It does not advance the best ideals of legal education or the profession we serve, and it contradicts the deeply held commitments of Harvard Law School,” Manning said of the rankings, adding they “can create perverse incentives that influence schools’ decisions in ways that undercut student choice and harm the interests of potential students.”
Both Manning and Gerken said they were concerned with U.S. News’ heavy ranking of LSAT scores and GPAs, which they said could disincentivize diverse applicants. They said despite bringing those concerns to the for-profit magazine, not enough had been done.
The departures are significant. Yale’s law school has held the top spot in the U.S. News rankings since the company began releasing its list in 1990. Harvard, currently ranked 4th, has also retained a prominent place on the list alongside other well-regarded programs.
The head of U.S. News and World Report, Eric Gertler, said the company would continue to release its rankings. It’s unclear if Yale and Harvard will remain a part of the list, as much of the information used for the ranking system is publicly available.
“As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students,” Gertler said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
Other schools at Yale and Harvard can continue to submit data to be included in the U.S. News rankings.