U-M Medical School to no longer participate in annual U.S. News & World Report medical school rankings

January 30, 2023  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

The criteria used by U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) to rank medical schools have long been a concern for the University of Michigan and many medical schools across the country. In fact, in recent years, prior to the recent surge in attention focused on this issue, Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the U-M Medical School, has worked with several groups of deans from peer institutions in an effort to effect change in the approaches used by USNWR. 

In addition, Runge interfaced directly with USNWR leadership urging change in their methodologies. Ultimately, however, all of these discussions yielded only minor revisions to the methodology used by USNWR to rank medical schools. 

“There is a fundamental problem in assuming that an aggregated score, based on many different dimensions, can help students (or others) evaluate institutions with respect to their individual priorities,” said Runge. “Creating an overall ranking blurs each school’s varied attributes into a single score or rank that reflects priorities set by USNWR itself.”

As a result of thoughtful discussion and review with our leaders, faculty and students, the U-M Medical School has decided to no longer submit data and will stop participating in the USNWR medical school rankings.

The input received from these different stakeholder groups strongly aligns with this decision.  Though some noted that the USNWR (and other) rankings bring the institution to the attention of some who are less familiar with it. In this way, not participating in USNWR rankings may represent more of a risk for public institutions than it does for well-known, highly endowed private institutions. 

“We will continue and intensify efforts to ensure that our school’s impressive attributes are widely disseminated, and we will support other ranking approaches that align with our values,” said Runge. “We are committed to providing transparent information that will support student decision-making.” 

For instance, understanding that some students have used rankings to inform their choices, the medical school will make a variety of data readily available on its public website. This will allow prospective students and others to evaluate specific aspects of the school directly.

“This decision does not relate to our participation in hospital or health system rankings, which may provide helpful information to patients and families,” said Runge, who also serves as CEO of Michigan Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs. “The criteria for USNWR hospital and health system rankings come, in part, from an established set of objective metrics in multiple domains, including patient safety, mortality and equity, among others. While we currently intend to continue participation in the hospital and health system rankings, we anticipate continued dialogue across the health care community about these and other ranking systems.”