NC State Biological and Agricultural Engineering graduate programs jumped four spots to number three in this year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best graduate schools in the nation.
U.S. News has evaluated higher education programs for more than 30 years and remains a leading source for institutional assessment. According to U.S. News, the rankings are based on expert opinion about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students. Last year, the department’s undergraduate programs moved up four spots to sixth in the nation.
“Our new graduate ranking is simply a reflection of the high quality of our faculty, staff, professionals, and students in our department. In the last five years, our graduate program has grown exponentially due to our investment in innovative and high-demand research, extension, and academic programs and in terms of the total number, expertise, and diversity of our graduate students,” says BAE department head and professor Garey Fox.
Faculty, staff and students gathered under Weaver Pavilion on March 29 to celebrate one of the department’s highest achievements to date. Currently, BAE enrolls 79 graduate students, including three National Science Foundation Research Fellows, representing 21 states and 12 countries.
“I feel my works are being appreciated through this [ranking],” explains Suraiya Akter, an international Ph.D. candidate from Bangladesh. “When my parents see this kind of news from the other side of the world, they feel really proud, which makes me happy.”
Expanding visibility of BAE programs is significant for recruiting the top students and advancing interdisciplinary research to address grand challenges.
The department is noticeably active with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), a professional association dedicated to the advancement of engineering, food and biological systems. There are currently 80 members in the NC State student chapter, and last year, the department boasted 12 student competition awards at the association’s Annual International Meeting, including graduate student Carly Graves who was the recipient of the Yoerger Pre-Professional of the Year Award.
For Carly, the recent ranking validate her decision to pursue an advanced degree at NC State after graduating from the department with a B.S. in Biological Engineering. “[The ranking] reaffirms that I will be entering the workforce as prepared as anyone for a career in agricultural engineering,” she says. “As I present my research and network through the rest of my graduate degree at conferences, workshops and other events, I know people are aware of the talent and strengths of BAE, and I feel proud to share the work going on here.”