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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
November 1, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Receives Top Rankings In Decision Science Graduate Programs

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's multidisciplinary graduate programs in decision science have received top honors by the Decision Analysis Society, which is part of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the field's leading professional and scientific organization.

The Decision Analysis Society gave Carnegie Mellon its highest rank, five stars or "exceptional," for its descriptive decision programs, which concern how people process judgments and make decisions. The university received a four-star, or "excellent," ranking for its prescriptive decision programs, which seek to discern how people can make better decisions. Carnegie Mellon, along with Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania, are the only schools that received both a five-star and four-star ranking; no schools received two five-star rankings.

"Carnegie Mellon has been home to some of the founders of the field of decision science, including the late Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon, and our research in this field typifies what makes us unique: a multidisciplinary approach to solving real-world problems," said Carnegie Mellon Provost Mark Kamlet, who previously served as head of the university's Department of Social and Decision Sciences.

Decision science is an interdisciplinary field that draws on insights from psychology and economics to provide a realistic picture of human decision making. The combination of these perspectives leads decision science to focus on ways that real-world decision making deviates from the theoretical assumptions of economics and on ways in which the performance of decision makers might be improved. In the half century of the field's existence, it has made fundamental theoretical contributions to research in psychology, economics, political science, public policy and management. Among the questions decision science has studied are: Why do people fail to save for retirement? Why do they take addictive drugs but fail to take medications that could actually help them? Why do they avoid risks that are not objectively threatening (e.g., flying) but ignore risks that are truly serious (e.g., eating unhealthy foods or driving unsafely)?

Carnegie Mellon's graduate programs in decision science reside in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Its faculty and research, however, span several departments and colleges, including the College of Engineering, the David A. Tepper School of Business and the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management.

The study was conducted for the Decision Analysis Society by Ralph L. Keeney of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Kelly E. See of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Detlof von Winterfield of the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning and Development.

"The intellectual knowledge created and disseminated by faculty in our universities is a very important national resource when it comes to making better decisions," Keeney said. "Individuals make decisions daily that affect their lives. It is easy to imagine that our lives and the futures of our businesses, organizations and country would be much brighter if as students, or adults, we were taught how to make more informed choices."


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