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  December 3, 2001

Biology Department Earns Top Marks
in Survey of Graduate Programs

The message posted on the discussion forum sponsored by the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students is short but succinct. It also set the tone for other students seeking doctoral degrees from UConn's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"I find UConn an excellent program. It is rigorous, the students are respected, the environment is supportive, and the department is not bogged down by the politics that often infests academia," the student says.

Image: Biology graduate students
Patrick Herron, left, and Jonathan Richmond, both graduate students in the ecology and evolutionary biology department, look over plants at the greenhouse in the Torrey Life Sciences Building. The department's graduate program was highly rated by students in a national survey.

Photo by Peter Morenus

Those comments, and top marks given EEB's graduate program by students answering several dozen questions on the 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey, led to an overall satisfaction grade of "A" for the department, one of only a handful of "A"s received across the nation.

EEB was one of 38 graduate programs at UConn to receive votes in the survey, 11 of which received enough votes to qualify for a letter grade. Of those, seven received a "B."

The online, admittedly unscientific survey, was conducted by NAGPS, an advocacy group representing 900,000 graduate and professional students across 200 campuses in the United States. The survey, which received 32,000 responses, was funded through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The survey seeks input in 10 areas, including overall satisfaction with a program, how well a department prepares students for careers in and outside of the teaching arena, professional development, program climate, and career guidance and placement services. Each area receives a letter and number grade depending on the responses, and these are compared to the national sample.

Rankings for UConn's ecology and evolutionary biology department were better than the national average in all 10 categories listed, including a significant 20 points better than the average among its peer departments in overall satisfaction. Other departments receiving a letter grade of "B" were educational psychology, human development and family relations, molecular and cell biology, nutritional sciences, philosophy, political science, and psychology.

Rankings for all UConn departments that received at least 10 responses, and rankings for nearly 200 colleges nationwide, can be viewed at

Richard Veilleux

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