UCSF Schools Shine in 2021 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools Rankings

By Nina Bai

Nursing students working on mannequin of pregnant patient
The UCSF School of Nursing's master's degree program and specialties were among the UCSF programs that placed highly in the latest U.S. News Best Grad School rankings. Nursing students, Emmanuel Onywera (left), Jennie Ling and Christina Camp (far right), learn how to care for an expectant mother using a simulation. Photo credit: Susan Merrell

UC San Francisco’s schools of medicine, nursing and pharmacy all received high rankings in this year’s U.S. News & World Report survey of best graduate and professional schools.

The UCSF School of Medicine placed in the top six nationally for the 11th consecutive year, and the School of Pharmacy's PharmD program ranked second nationally among 134 schools and programs offering doctor of pharmacy degrees. Five of the School of Nursing’s specialties ranked in the top six, and the school ranked 11th overall nationwide among 236 nursing master’s degree programs.

UCSF also has a top program in Dentistry and highly regarded graduate program in biomedical science, but U.S. News does not rank dental schools and this year’s survey did not rank doctoral science programs.

In the 2021 medical school rankings, UCSF School of Medicine’s research program placed sixth and its primary care education program placed second.

For the second year in a row, UCSF was also the only medical school ranked in the top five in all eight specialty areas covered by the survey. Three specialties maintained their rankings: third in anesthesiology, third in radiology, and fifth in family medicine. Five specialties moved up in their rankings: first in obstetrics and gynecology, second in internal medicine, second in psychiatry, second in surgery, and fourth in pediatrics.

“This is a significant recognition of the work we have done to create an exceptional environment for discovery, patient care and learning,” said Talmadge E. King Jr., MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “Now, more than ever, the UCSF School of Medicine takes pride in its ability to prepare a generation of physicians and scientists to treat the most vulnerable populations, and strive to solve the Bay Area, state and nation’s most urgent health problems.”

The UCSF School of Pharmacy’s ranking of second place nationally among PharmD programs comes amid the school’s update to its PharmD curriculum, which in 2019 instituted sweeping changes. The new curriculum challenges students to think scientifically and with the patient top of mind – a philosophy that stands out among pharmacy schools nationwide.

“The latest PharmD program rankings are testimony to the School’s focus on grounding our learners with an ever-present, inquisitive scientific way of thinking,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean of the School of Pharmacy. This approach will ensure the safe, effective, and cost-effective use of medicines and personalized therapeutics for all patients in ways we can’t yet imagine today”

The School of Nursing’s specialty rankings include second in family nurse practitioner, fifth in adult gerontology acute care, fifth in pediatric primary care, sixth in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and sixth in nurse midwifery.

“For more than a century, the School of Nursing has been recognized for its excellence in preparing the next generation of exceptional nurse leaders,” said Catherine L. Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing. “Our ongoing commitment is to build on this rich history by continually updating our academic programs and creating innovative educational opportunities that tackle the increasingly complex health needs of our communities and advance health care for all.”

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, noted the schools’ history of consistent excellence and the fundamental role each school plays in advancing UCSF’s mission. “Our schools provide the training ground for some of the world’s most talented and diverse students, and seed the next generation for advancing health in our local community, the broader nation and the globe. I am immensely proud of our faculty and administrators who guide these schools and the students we are honored to train.”

The U.S. News medical and nursing school rankings are based on data provided by schools, as well as surveys of deans and faculty at peer institutions. Other factors include the amount of funding that faculty receive from the National Institutes of Health; how selective the school is in admitting students; and the ratio of full-time faculty to students.

Medical and nursing specialty area rankings are based solely on ratings made by deans and senior faculty at peer institutions who were asked to identify up to 15 schools offering the best programs in each specialty. The pharmacy ranking is based solely on surveys sent to deans, administrators and faculty at accredited PharmD programs.

The rankings are published in the magazine’s 2021 issue of Best Graduate Schools.