Oh, good grief!!! So what? Columbia is strong across the board and has consistent academic strengths. The only person bothered would be someone who is intellectually and emotionally insecure and requires "bragging rights" for ego gratification.
It matters that it is consistently strong, and that the reputation of the university as a whole unit is top. As a university Columbia is one of the TOP TEN in the world. THAT is what matters. On this point I absolutely concur with prezbucky.
There are universities that are not particularly great or consistently strong, that do manage to snag a number one ranking for one or two departments. In the final analysis I would prefer to go to a university that has more consistent, across-the-board excellence than to a university that has one or two number ones, within an overall less impressive academic culture. Because the university culture and resources across the board at a Columbia are so impressive, that general quality more than offsets your quibble.
In graduate school the quality of the university as a whole matters ALOT, number ones or not. Consistent excellence over the broadest range of academic options is absolutely key, not a couple of number one rankings. Your thinking is immature.
For full disclosure. I earned my Ph.D. at an Ivy League peer of Columbia and I was much less interested in the achievement of any #1 rankings by various departments at this university, and more concerned that it had consistent strength across the board and well-distributed intellectual and academic and financial resources that I could access throughout my graduate career. That my department was not #1 was not as important as that the whole university had great intellectual resources evenly distributed and available. What is true of that institution, I believe to be true of Columbia.
The caliber of a university's total academic culture is crucial, not its attainment of questionable individual departmental rankings, unless of course they are all bottom rung, then you have a problem which IS worth a post. OP, you are not a grad student. If you get to that point, you will GET what I am saying here.
Just to be fair to OP I looked at some of these rankings and, lo and behold, Columbia is revealed to be consistently strong across the board, WHICH IS WHAT YOU WANT IN A UNIVERSITY. Some surprises, like Columbia Law ranking ahead of UChicago (at #4), like Columbia and Harvard tied at #17 for Computer Science!
What really struck me was the consistency of Columbia departments ranking within the top ten, such as : Law #4; English #4; Education, #5; Earth Sciences, #5; History and Political Science both at #7; B-School, #8; Medical Research #8; Math, Chem, Econ, Fine Arts, #10...
Columbia is currently ranked one of the world's top ten universities, and its departments are in that general area. Good for Columbia. Good for its students. Good for people who are obsessed with rankings.
OP I saw NO evidence that EVERY single other Ivy or top ten uni was ranked number one at something and that Columbia was the sole, sad little outlier here. What is your proof? I want to see the number one rankings for every other Ivy and all the other top tens. Please post. Now, I did see that Harvard was often number one. I would expect this, and I don't care.
On the point of rankings, if Columbia's departments were not so strong across the board, it would not be ranked #4 as an undergraduate uni by USNWR, or ranked in top ten world wide. Those rankings are a tribute to its general excellence across the boards, and that is all you need to be concerned about: Columbia's reputation for general, across-the-board excellence.
In addition to the strong points made by Swingtime and others here, it's also worth mentioning that, for Ph.D. programs, the rankings released by the National Research Council ("NRC") have historically been of much more interest to scholars and academic professionals than have been those published by USNWR, which are, frankly, magazine fodder of little value.
The most recent NRC rankings, long-delayed but finally released in Fall 2010, provide a complex system of rank ranges, the thinking being that a simple numeric assignment is far too simplistic (and naive, honestly) a way of organizing these doctoral programs. Each ranked graduate program thus received both a high and low ranking, meaning it could be "as high as" or "as low as" its respective values. All programs were also ranked across two different methodologies, "survey" and "regression." The result is every program having two pairs of rankings, which the NRC claimed were equally valid.
Going through those rankings, you'll find that the following doctoral programs at Columbia rank as high as #1:
Art History and Archaeology
Earth and Environmental Sciences
In the end, all rankings are of questionable value. They might provide a means of abstracting a selected set of data into a comparative list, but they are grossly incomprehensive and do nothing to address scholastic fit and research compatibility, which are paramount concerns for graduate work.
Having a program ranked #1 is of dubious benefit; I only post these NRC rankings to point out to the OP that Columbia does indeed have such programs.
When Columbia ranks high in surveys, Columbia students and alum celebrate. And when Columbia is ranked lower in surveys, then they are immediately dismissed. It is really sad that Columbia alums and students in particular are so insecure about their schools "status" among the top universities. I have children attending Stanford and I attended another Ivy for undergrad and a top professional school. I can confidently state that the Stanford community spends no time (nada!) worrying about whether they are ranked higher or lower than Columbia.......Likewise, for the other schools I attended.
Columbia is a fine school and has some distinguished professional schools and graduate programs, but it is not by any means "better" than other research schools in any particular field of study. Other than being the biggest school (with 26,000 students) among the top universities)....Columbia is not "number 1". But then again who cares.
WOW, your kids attend Stanford. That is So cool! Even though Stanford is ranked #5 five and Columbia is #4, I couldn't be MORE impressed by your family's accomplishments. And you attended another Ivy for undergrad AND a top professional school! That is SO awesome!!! Even with my earned Harvard Ph.D, I am just absolutely humbled in your presence. You and your family are absolutely astonishing and amazing. I feel your pride, and bow to you in respect of your extraordinary, unique accomplishments. Thank you for sharing your completely unrelated information here on the Columbia board for we intellectual peasants.
Just an amusing side note, in the new edition of the Fiske Guide, readers are advised not to compare Stanford with the Ivies. It is to be considered a combination of Duke and MIT. Hmmm. And in Newsweek's college rankings, oddly enough Columbia is ranked the #1 most RIGOROUS undergraduate institution. So, you may lord whatever it is you think you have over us, but Columbia students will leave better and more rigorously educated than those at Stanford, at least according to Newsweek.
Thanks for sharing, Your Majesty, and have a nice day!
Why, by the way, did you revive this absolutely ludicrous thread?
kalorama I can confidently state that the Stanford community spends no time (nada!) worrying about whether they are ranked higher or lower than Columbia.......Likewise, for the other schools I attended
Um, I guess you haven't been over to the Stanford forum in the last two years where Columbia is constantly bashed for having a higher ranking...