8

Administrative Questions about Biomedical Science Programs and Concluding Thoughts

Initially, the panel thought that it could contrast programs on the basis of two variables dealing with administration:

Was the program managed in a medical school or in a graduate school of arts and sciences?

Was the program part of a biomedical science “umbrella” program?

It turned out that neither question was straightforward for all programs.

MEDICAL SCHOOL OR GRADUATE SCHOOL

In an attempt to categorize programs correctly, the panel conducted an email inquiry of institutions with medical schools, asking them where their biomedical sciences programs were located administratively. A number of programs were shared between arts and sciences and the medical school. We had thought that medical schools might impose a more “professional school” model on their Ph.D. programs, that is, the expectation would be of completion in a fixed period of time, and the assumption would be that most enrollees would complete.

What we found was that some programs were administered jointly. The only unambiguous contrast we could make was between programs in the same field in the same institution. Even then, these programs were not strictly comparable—for example, in the field of pharmacology, toxicology, and environmental health, a single institution may have separate programs in each field. Given these uncertainties, it was difficult to make comparisons that the panel thought were reliable.

As an illustration of data that might be used to identify differences between programs in medical school and arts and sciences, Table 8-1 compares completion rates and median time to degree for five fields in which the panel was able to identify common programs at three or more institutions.



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8 Administrative Questions about Biomedical Science Programs and Concluding Thoughts Initially, the panel thought that it could contrast programs on the basis of two variables dealing with administration: Was the program managed in a medical school or in a graduate school of arts and sciences? Was the program part of a biomedical science “umbrella” program? It turned out that neither question was straightforward for all programs. MEDICAL SCHOOL OR GRADUATE SCHOOL In an attempt to categorize programs correctly, the panel conducted an email inquiry of institutions with medical schools, asking them where their biomedical sciences programs were located administratively. A number of programs were shared between arts and sciences and the medical school. We had thought that medical schools might impose a more “professional school” model on their Ph.D. programs, that is, the expectation would be of completion in a fixed period of time, and the assumption would be that most enrollees would complete. What we found was that some programs were administered jointly. The only unambiguous contrast we could make was between programs in the same field in the same institution. Even then, these programs were not strictly comparable—for example, in the field of pharmacology, toxicology, and environmental health, a single institution may have separate programs in each field. Given these uncertainties, it was difficult to make comparisons that the panel thought were reliable. As an illustration of data that might be used to identify differences between programs in medical school and arts and sciences, Table 8-1 compares completion rates and median time to degree for five fields in which the panel was able to identify common programs at three or more institutions. 47

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48 RESEARCH-DOCTORATE PROGRAMS IN THE BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES TABLE 8-1 Comparison of Completion Rates and Median Time to Degree for Programs in both Arts and Sciences and Medical Schools (by Percentages for Completion and Years for Time to Degree) Medical Number of A&S School Medical Institutions Program Program Med A&S School Med with Average of Average of School Program Program School Common Completion Completion minus MedianTime MedianTime minus Field Programs Rate Rate A&S to Degree to Degree A&S Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology 8 46.83% 42.11% -4.71% 5.59 5.97 0.38 Cell and Developmental Biology 5 29.62% 56.72% 27.06% 6.6 5.9 -0.72 Immunology and Infectious Disease 3 60.50% 56.87% -3.60% 6.1 5.27 -0.83 Neuroscience and Neurobiology 4 46.28% 41.55% -4.73% 5.87 5.72 -0.15 Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health 8 50.15% 52.91% 2.75% 5.42 5.68 0.26

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ADMINISTRATIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT BOIMEDICAL SCIENCE PROGRAMS 49 PROGRAMS IN INTEGRATED BIOLOGICAL AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES The panel took a close look at the programs in the field of integrated biological and biomedical sciences. We wanted to use this diverse field to identify the programs in which students typically spend one year sampling research in different laboratories and then choose an area of specialization. However, the responding institutions provided data for individual fields, even when those fields were part of an umbrella program. Using data from the Assessment survey of doctoral programs,1 the panel examined the ratio of the number of students who enrolled to the number of students who received offers of admission to see if the integrated biological and biomedical science programs were more popular (as indicated by a higher enrolled-to-offered ratio), but did not find any evidence of this. Such an effect may have been obscured by the ambiguities in the classification of programs. 1 See Program Questionnaire, Question #C3, (Appendix D of the Assessment).

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