The new system — offered by PhDs.org — takes a different approach: It provides free access to information about more than 5,000 programs at more than 400 universities. But the potential applicant has to decide how to weight the information. Are you more concerned about enrolling in a program with many minority or female students than you are in a program with low tuition? Are you more interested in the average time to finish a doctorate or the prestige of the faculty? Do you care more about the proportion of students who receive fellowships or the percentage who find a job after they earn degrees? After ranking the relative importance you place on these and other factors, the database produces a customized ranking of departments, indicating both a total ranking and how departments placed in the various criteria selected.
Geoff Davis, who designed the program, had this to say: “It doesn’t make sense to call any department No. 1. They all have strengths and weaknesses.”