Health and Human Development Graduate Programs among Nationís Best

October 13, 2010

Graduate programs in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development (HHD) were ranked among the nation’s best in a study recently released by the National Research Council (NRC). Three of the college’s programs participated in the rankings—Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, and Nutrition.

The NRC study, its first since 1995, was based on a comprehensive data set designed to assess research activity, student support and outcomes, and diversity of the academic environment. The report positions programs within a range of quality rather than assigning them a unique ranking. 

The Kinesiology doctoral program ranked between 1 and 5 among the forty-one programs included in the NRC assessment. The department’s research activity and student support and outcomes rankings were particularly strong. The program also had the narrowest range of top-tier rankings of any Kinesiology program surveyed. Taken in total the NRC data places the PSU Kinesiology program squarely at the top of the 41 similar programs surveyed. 

The Nutrition program also ranked highly, with an overall ranking in the top ten among the forty-five programs assessed. Research activity was a strong component, with a fifth percentile ranking that placed it second in the nation.

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) doctoral program placed within the top 7 to 24 percent of the 237 psychology-based programs participating, with an absolute ranking somewhere between sixteenth and fifty-sixth

“The College of Health and Human Development made stellar contributions to the overall performance of Penn State as an institution, and overall Penn State did extremely well,” says Dr. Neil Sharkey, associate dean for research and graduate education in HHD. “Of the sixty-five Penn State programs examined, 6 percent ranked within the top 10 percent of their respective fields nationally, and 32 percent were within the top 25 percent nationally.”

The final NRC report was published by the National Academy of Sciences on September 28, 2010, and is available at

For more information on Penn State’s recent NRC rankings, see


Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or