As the national rankings landscape continues to fluctuate dramatically, William & Mary remains steadfast in its values-based approach.

William & Mary is regarded as a quintessential “Public Ivy” through its exceptional undergraduate teaching, internships, career mentoring, small classes and commitment to access and affordability. Recent rankings indicate these high standards, as well as the core initiatives of the Vision 2026 strategic plan such as careers and internships, are gaining significance in the way outside organizations evaluate William & Mary.

Leading the way in careers

The Wall Street Journal recently lauded William & Mary for career preparation with top 20 rankings among public universities for high-paying jobs in finance, management consulting and technology. Careers is one of four pillars in W&M’s Vision 2026 strategic plan, along with democracy, data and water.

“These kinds of outcomes over long periods of time testify to the enduring power of a liberal arts and sciences curriculum that embraces hands-on learning,” said Provost Peggy Agouris. “This long-standing strength at William & Mary has become a true distinction in recent years, and we are gaining national recognition for it.”

William & Mary offers access to a vast array of experiences to support lifelong career success. From students’ first internships to their last jobs, W&M helps ensure they are well-prepared to excel in their chosen careers.

  • W&M consistently ranks as a top 20 public school for alumni networks and has been rated by the Princeton Review as the best public school for internships three years running. Princeton Review’s 2024 internships ranking comes out later this spring.
  • The median W&M graduate has a 29% higher salary than the median Virginia public university bachelor’s degree holder 15 years from graduation.
  • 92% of W&M graduates are employed or attending graduate/professional school within six months of graduation.

“William & Mary has created an ecosystem that supports career readiness for professional success,” said W&M Chief Career Officer Kathleen Powell. “Our value proposition is to be a career partner for life, and we are. We empower students not only to excel academically but to thrive professionally. These new rankings affirm our commitment to fostering career success, recognizing that the true measure of our excellence lies in the achievements of our graduates beyond the classroom.”

Students at the Cohen Career Center.
The Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement at William & Mary offers career development programs, services, connections, and resources, designed to help students and alumni navigate rapid change and thrive from their first job to their last. (Photo by Stephen Salpukas.)

Graduate school rankings climbing

William & Mary’s graduate schools rank among the best in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

William & Mary saw considerable improvement in the latest rankings of its graduate schools. The university improved to 36th among best law schools, 40th for best business schools and 58th for best education schools.

A year after major movement in the U.S. News law rankings – followed by much debate and controversy in 2023 over the accuracy of its data – the William & Mary Law School saw a jump of nine spots from its ranking in 2023. Nearly 60% of the ranking was based on the successful placement of graduates and bar passage rates, both of which align favorably with W&M’s focus on careers. More than 12% came from legal professionals’ assessment of the program’s overall quality, highlighting the strength of W&M Law graduates entering the field.

“I am delighted to see our continued recognition as one of America’s top law schools,” said Dean of William & Mary Law School A. Benjamin Spencer. “Every day we prioritize outcomes for our students, which is why we are proud to be 12th nationally in first-time bar passage, with a 95.5% total employment rate. We are also 17th in the scholarly impact of our faculty, which further highlights our commitment to excellence. These rankings are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, students, and staff, but it is also important to remember that we are about more than just numbers; we are committed to fostering a community of dedicated citizen lawyers who make a real-world impact.”

W&M’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business improved five places from its U.S. News & World Report rating in 2023. Half of the ranking was based on the successful job placements and earnings outcomes of graduates. The school was also evaluated on metrics around the achievements of entering students, and opinions by business school deans, corporate recruiters and employers on overall program quality.

The Mason School of Business has also claimed the #1 spot in Learning in Bloomberg Businessweek’s rankings four times in the last five years.

“These rankings underscore our commitment to academic excellence and student success and reinforce our university’s reputation as a leader in providing transformative learning experiences,” said Todd A. Mooradian, Dean of the Mason School of Business.

“These acknowledgments are representative of the impact of our teacher-scholar-practitioner model. The dedication and expertise of the faculty members in delivering high-quality education, experiential learning opportunities and mentorship to students is unmatched and a tangible differentiator for our graduates in the marketplace.”

The William & Mary School of Education jumped 12 spots from the 2023 U.S. News & World Report rankings. Education schools were evaluated on research activity, academic excellence of entering students, faculty resources and opinions on program quality from education school deans and hiring professionals. Superintendents and those hiring new educators continue to comment on the quality of W&M graduates as they enter the field.

The school of education also recently received top billing in online master’s in mental health counseling programs.

“These rankings reflect our priority to conduct research and scholarship of consequence, one of our strongly held values,” said W&M School of Education Dean Robert C. Knoeppel. “Our research expenditures have increased 72% compared to last year through ongoing community-engaged projects directly impacting children, communities and families across the Commonwealth and beyond. These projects include critical areas such as learning loss from COVID, leadership preparation, the teacher shortage and accessible mental health services. This is truly a moment of great pride, with all credit to the faculty and center staff.”

Excellence in key qualities

The variety and dissonance of rankings from year to year led W&M President Katherine A. Rowe last fall to establish a working group that recommended a values-based approach to rankings.

“External sources of information, including rankings, have a role to play in recognizing our excellence in transcending boundaries between research and teaching, teaching and learning, learning and living,” said Vice President for Strategy & Innovation Jeremy P. Martin, who chaired the group of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The group met multiple times during the fall semester to identify an approach to rankings that affirms the primacy of the university’s mission.

“William & Mary’s mission statement defines the institution, in part, as ‘a preeminent, public research university grounded in the liberal arts and sciences since 1693.’ To fulfill this mission requires the university to surpass others in excellence in key qualities,” the group stated. “Rank in those qualities is one means by which the university’s preeminence is validated.”

“In all instances, William & Mary’s focus should remain on excelling in and improving upon its distinguishing characteristics,” the working group concluded.

, University News & Media