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UC San Diego’s Doctoral Programs Lauded by U.S. News and World Report

New rankings name Jacobs School of Engineering 9th in nation and its bioengineering program ranks 4th

Photo credit: Erik Jespen/UC San Diego


  • Christine Clark

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  • Christine Clark

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U.S. News & World Report today released its 2021 guidebook that ranks the nation’s top graduate programs and professional schools, giving praise to the University of California San Diego’s innovative programs, including the campus’ Jacobs School of Engineering and School of Medicine.

The publication annually ranks professional schools in engineering, medicine, business, education and law. This year, the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering rose two spots to 9th in the U.S., and the school’s bioengineering graduate program ranks 4th in the nation, up one spot from last year.

Always highly recognized in the guidebook, the UC San Diego School of Medicine is 21st in the U.S. among research-intensive programs. In addition, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences soared seven spots this year and ranks 18th in the nation.

“The recognition of our excellence in bioengineering, engineering, medicine and pharmacy is well deserved and reflected in their improved rankings,” says Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “These rankings also reflect the increased investment in our programs and the continued ability of UC San Diego to attract the best and brightest graduate students, cutting edge researchers, and leading faculty experts.”

Graduate student research with a transformative, real-world impact

Graduate students play an integral part in UC San Diego’s world-renowned research. At the Jacobs School of Engineering, researchers led by four bioengineering graduate students demonstrated the ability to continuously monitor water for lead and other heavy metals using harmless E. coli bacteria. The new bacteria-based water sensing technology could help communities identify if the water they are drinking is safe.

A mechanical engineering graduate student bridged multiple disciplines in order to make another bold breakthrough possible: an ultrasound-emitting device that speeds charging and extends lifetime for lithium metal batteries. The device is made from off-the-shelf smartphone components and could be applied to a wide range of battery chemistries. 

Students at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine are trained to become expert clinicians and scientists who are aware of, and responsive to, community needs. Recent research from graduate students at the school includes the development a novel method to identify who has cancer, and often which type, by analyzing patterns of microbial DNA — bacterial and viral — present in their blood. The study may change how cancer is viewed, and diagnosed.

In addition, Sindana Ilango, a graduate student in the UC San Diego/San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, studies the health effects of climate change. In a recent study, she found that heatwave exposure is linked to increased risk of preterm birth in California.

Across disciplines, graduate programs earn praise as best in the nation 

New and previous data from U.S. News surveys indicates UC San Diego graduate programs demonstrate broad strengths across disciplines. In addition to new engineering and medicine rankings; the social, physical and biological sciences, as well the arts and humanities are occasionally ranked by the publication, and consistently earn high marks from U.S. News.

Highly ranked doctoral programs in the science, engineering, and medicine include: computer engineering (14); electrical engineering (14); radiology (14); earth sciences (15); biological sciences (16); computer science (16); psychiatry (16); physics (17); mechanical engineering (17); aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering (18); mathematics (19); pediatrics (19); chemistry (20); civil engineering (21); internal medicine (21); as well as obstetrics and gynecology (21).

U.S. News rankings of programs in the social sciences include political science (9); economics (12); and psychology (13).

In addition, highly rated programs in the humanities include fine arts time-based media/new media (7); and fine arts (10).

For more information about graduate education, go to UC San Diego's Graduate Division website.

For more information on the rankings, go to the U.S. News and World Report website.

A note about COVID-19 and educational continuity at UC San Diego

As local, national and global public health recommendations continue to shift to include mitigation of transmission of COVID-19, UC San Diego has proactively taken steps to (1) protect the health of our students, faculty and staff; (2) help slow the spread of the virus in California and the nation; (3) ensure the continuity of our teaching and research.

The campus is adhering to social distancing recommendations. As such, the last day of face-to-face instruction was March 13, 2020. Spring quarter classes will be conducted remotely, while the campus will remain open and operational. More information on how UC San Diego is addressing COVID-19 can be found at

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