U.S. News & World Report today ranked 27 UCF graduate programs in the top 100 of their fields nationally, according to the publication’s 2021 Best Graduate Schools rankings.

Seven of the programs are taught in the College of Community Innovation and Education, including UCF’s highest-ranking program, Emergency and Crisis Management, which was ranked No. 2 in the nation and jumped five spots from last year’s No. 7 ranking.

“Emergency and Crisis Management is dynamic and requires an all-hazards, whole community approach,” says Claire Connolly Knox, director of the program. “In Florida, we tend to focus on hurricanes. The current pandemic, COVID-19, and recent cybersecurity attacks on local governments are two of the many hazards our community needs to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate.

“As technology evolves, the risks we face continue to evolve and change drastically. Our degree offerings provide a solid foundation for current and future leaders to face the more common crises and disasters as well as those we have yet to experience.”

A Broad Appeal to Community Impact

The other programs ranked among the top 50 include Nonprofit Management (No. 5), Optics and Photonics (No. 12), Counselor Education (No. 13), Local Government Management (No. 17), Public Management and Leadership (No. 23), Criminal Justice (No. 26), Public Budgeting and Finance (No. 26), Best Public Administration Schools (No. 38), Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems Engineering (No. 41) and Health Administration (No. 46). The Best Public Administration Schools also made the highest leap from last year’s rankings, jumping 15 spots from No. 53.

“The programs offered by the School of Public Administration are dynamic in the sense that they move in rhythm with the governments, public, communities that influence all of our lives,” says Pamela “Sissi” Carroll, dean of the College of Community Innovation and Education, which has the most ranked programs this year. “The faculty are experts in their academic areas, and are also leaders who bring students into conversation with local, state, national and international leaders. Through these experiences, our students see the potential for positive societal impact of knowledge and well-informed public action.”

The dean says today’s students seek professions in which they can directly contribute to society, and at UCF they are able to take advantage of educational offerings that include fully online, hybrid and face-to-face courses, plus the new location of UCF Downtown, where students increasingly are drawn to new opportunities to experience the intersections of classroom and organization-based learning.

“Our programs attract students that have an interest in serving the public good and making the world a better place for all,” says Naim Kapucu, director of the School of Public Administration. “Students are able to obtain an education that emphasizes the value of innovation and partnership for public service. Our programs attract students who are interested in being driving forces for the changes they wish to see in society.”

Kapucu says the school has the largest faculty expertise in emergency management compared to any public administration programs in the nation.

“Matched with our experienced faculty, an innovative approach to education, and strong community partnerships, students graduate with the skillset and knowledge to be not only public servants, but also leaders in our ever-evolving world,” he says.

Strong Programs in Engineering

UCF’s engineering programs dominate the additional programs in the top 100 in their fields, including Aerospace Engineering (No. 53), Materials Science and Engineering (No. 54), Communication Sciences and Disorders (No. 55), Physical Therapy (No. 57), Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering (No. 58), Computer Engineering (No. 61), Physics (No. 61), Best Education Schools (No. 63), Environmental Engineering (No. 68), Mechanical Engineering (No. 70), Social Work (No. 70), Best Engineering Schools (No. 74), Civil Engineering (No. 75), Computer Science (No. 82), Best Medical Schools: Research (No. 84) and Best Medical Schools: Primary Care (No. 94–122).

The rankings are drafted each year to help students find programs to continue their education and advance their careers. The publication weighs more than 800 institutions based on peer and expert opinions about the quality of programs and statistical data that measures the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.