Two Marquette College of Health Sciences programs recently made significant leaps in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 rankings. The doctoral physical therapy program is ranked 12th nationally, up from 19th, and the graduate program in speech-language pathology is ranked 62nd nationally, up from 72nd — the highest rankings ever achieved by either program.
“This definitely represents progress for us, though we are far from done,” says Dr. William Cullinan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “For PT, moving up within the top twenty is a major accomplishment.” Cullinan attributes both programs’ higher rankings to the college’s increasingly active research environment, which is especially strong in the areas of neuroscience and neurorehabilitation. “We are now far more visible on the national scene than ever before,” Cullinan says.
The PT program’s nationally known faculty include Dr. Guy Simoneau, the editor of the Journal of Orthopedics and Sports Physical Therapy, and Dr. Don Neumann, author of “the definitive text on kinesiology,” says Dr. Larry Pan, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.
Pan says the program’s peer reputation has also been helped by roughly 50 national awards won by PT students and faculty, the addition of a neuroresidency post-graduate program in PT and continued exposure through the Marquette Challenge. The Marquette Challenge has raised more than $2.3 million for physical therapy research over its nearly 25-year history. “It’s our students’ signature service project nationally,” Pan says. “We challenge all other students in the U.S. to raise money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy, which supports research in our profession. Every PT chair, PT student, PT faculty member knows Marquette through the Challenge. There is no other story like it in PT and no story like it in any profession where students lead the way on a major professional issue.”
Although rankings are simply one measure of a program’s reputation, Pan said it could make a difference in recruiting faculty and driving student applications. Already, the program has more than 1,100 applicants vying for just 62 spaces.
Dr. Edward Korabic, chair of the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, says he’s pleased that his program is ranked among the top 25 percent, especially considering it is one of the few programs ranked that high that does not offer a doctoral program.
Research in the department is on the rise, and it’s garnering more attention than ever before. Korabic cites national exposure from the $4 million U.S. Department of Education research grant for the Wisconsin Reading Acquisition Program, led by Dr. Maura Moyle, Dr. Brenda Gorman and Ms. Sue Berman; cutting-edge research by Dr. Jeffrey Berry, who directs the Marquette University Speech and Swallowing Lab; and the continued success of Dr. Subhash Bhatnagar’s book Neuroscience for the Study of Communication Disorders and his popular summer CE course.
“The new ranking is an affirmation of the quality of research productivity that can be achieved in our program with support from the college,” Korabic says.
Korabic also notes that a program’s reputation is made up of more than a single ranking. In the department’s last reaccreditation visit, the lead site visitor stated that Marquette’s graduate program in speech-language pathology was the best program she has reviewed in 20-plus years, Korabic says.
Although U.S. News and World Report does not rank every program every year, the physician assistant studies program was ranked 42nd last year.