All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Stephen J O’Connor

Advisory Committee Members

Nancy Borkowski

S Robert Hernandez

Jeff Szychowski

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Executive Doctor of Science (DSc) School of Health Professions


Social, economic and political influences are exerting considerable pressure on the development of universities and colleges. Such forces coupled with the growing influence of rankings are exerting a formidable impact upon higher education. The conceptual framework guiding this study was derived from the work of Spence and Signaling Theory (ST). This theory plays a vital role in societal interaction of individuals as well as how certain organizations carry out their mission. ST offers an opportunity and perspective to explore the relevance of signals associated with U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) rankings of graduate programs in healthcare management. Graduate programs in healthcare management first appeared in USNWR rankings in 1993. Although USNWR rankings of higher education institutions have been the subject of unprecedented discussion, little research exists as to their impact on graduate programs in healthcare management. This study fills a void in the literature by analyzing the relevance of a program’s USNWR ranking experience over a longitudinal period by examining the three following criteria: (1) entry test scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test or the Graduate Record Exam for entering students, (2) undergraduate grade point average for entering students, and (3) professional placement rates for students within three months of graduation. Although the results of this study did not validate the stated hypotheses, it did provide insight into several key areas. The analysis indicated that ranking of a school is significantly associated with placement of students in a fellowship. In addition, program location and degree type influenced the placement of students in a fellowship. The lack of statistically significant effects indicates that greater scrutiny of USNWR rankings of graduate programs in healthcare management remains both a challenge and an opportunity.



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