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Are Ivy League Professors Good Teachers?

This post is part of a series on schools with the best and worst college professors. Read the other two post Princeton corridoron the 25 College With the Worst Professors and the 25 Colleges With the Best College Professors.
When I recently wrote a post on the 25 colleges and universities with the best professors, none of the Ivy League schools made the list.

In fact, the eight Ivy League schools were nowhere to be seen even among the top 100 schools on the best professor list. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity compiled the list using teacher evaluations statistics from RateMyProfessors, which possesses ratings for more than one million professors.

Best College Professor Ratings

Out of a universe of 610 schools that the think tank examined, Princeton University made the best showing coming in with the 111th best college professors.

Here's how all the Ivy League schools fared:

  • 111. Princeton University
  • 152. Columbia University
  • 187. University of Pennsylvania
  • 196. Brown University
  • 213. Yale University
  • 247. Harvard University
  • 294. Dartmouth College
  • 414. Cornell University

Mediocre Ivy League Professors

I'm already anticipating the furious reaction from Ivy League alumni who are quite satisfied with U.S. News & World Report's seriously flawed college rankings that ensure that the Ivy League schools remain at the top of the prestige heap, but who are outraged when anyone dares to introduce methodology that questions these schools' superiority.

If you think the RateMyProfessors methodology is flaky, I'd suggest that you read the academic research, which the Center for College Affordability and Productivity has compiled that suggests that RateMyProfessor rankings are legitimate.

Easy Ivy League Grades

And please don't whine that Ivy League professors receive mediocre evaluations because the grading is so difficult. Actually, it's much easier for Ivy League students to get "A's" than at most other types of college and universities. In fact, students who attend regional public universities that attract commuters face much tougher grading than Ivy League students, according to research conducted by Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University professors and creator of In other words, the grading policies at Ivy Leagues schools can be quite cushy.

Ironically, the university that has made a concerted effort to tackle the Ivy League grade inflation problem is Princeton, which fared the best in the teacher evaluations.

In contrast, two-thirds of all letter grades at Brown University are "A's," according to Rojstaczer, but the easy grading practices at Brown didn't rocket the school anywhere near the top of the best professor charts.

Professors Aren't That Into You

Why are the rankings of Ivy League professors less than stellar when their institutions enjoy such vaunted reputations? I'd suggest that it's because the professors at the Ivies are far more focused on the graduate programs and their own research. If you're an undergrad at an Ivy League school, the professors just aren't that into you.

Also on CBS MoneyWatch:

Grade Inflation: Colleges With the Easiest and Hardest Grades
5 Hardest and Easiest College Majors by GPA
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Princeton image by zbtwells. CC 2.0.
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