We've just started the data collection for the upcoming 2011 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, which will be published in early spring 2010. The statistical survey data collection for business, law, engineering, medicine, and education programs began at the end of October on our password-secured website. The deadline to complete the statistical surveys is in early December 2009.

The grad school peer assessment surveys also have gone out in the field. Our goal was to have all the first mailings sent out by October 30. The peer surveys have roughly eight weeks in the field, with a second survey mailing going to those who don't respond the first time. U.S. News works with a contractor, Synovate, to administer the peer survey mailings.

What's new this time? For the 2011 edition, we're doing new peer-assessment-only rankings for Ph.D. programs in biology, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences (geosciences), mathematics, physics, and statistics. For the first time, we have separate survey instruments for both part-time M.B.A. and part-time law J.D. programs.

We'll continue to publish new rankings in the larger grad school disciplines in early spring 2010. As in the past for the rankings of America's Best Graduate Schools, U.S. News surveys both academics and professionals in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine, who give us expert opinions about a program's quality.

For our law school rankings, we're continuing to conduct separate peer surveys in clinical training, dispute resolution, environmental law, healthcare law, intellectual property law, international law, legal writing, tax law, and trial advocacy. In addition, this year, we will publish our second annual ranking of part-time J.D. law programs.

In engineering, we will once again have engineering specialty peer-assessment-only rankings in aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering, biological and agricultural engineering, bioengineering/biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical/electronic/communications engineering, environmental/environmental health engineering, industrial/manufacturing engineering, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering. These rankings are based solely on assessments by department heads in each specialty area. The names of department heads came from the American Society for Engineering Education.