THE PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS
H arvard's nine professional schools were on the cutting edge of its evolution from a Brahmin to a meritocratic university. Custom, tradition, and the evergreen memory of the alumni weighed less heavily on them than on the College. And the professions they served were more interested in their current quality than their past glory. True, major differences of size, standing, wealth, and academic clout separated Harvard's Brobdingnagian professional faculties—the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Medicine, Law, and Business— from the smaller, weaker Lilliputs—Public Health and Dentistry, Divinity, Education, Design, Public Administration. But these schools had a shared goal of professional training that ultimately gave them more in common with one another than with the College and made them the closest approximation of Conant's meritocratic ideal.
Harvard's doctoral programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) were a major source of its claim to academic preeminence. As the Faculty of Arts and Sciences became more research and discipline minded, so grew the importance of graduate education. A 1937 ranking of graduate programs in twenty-eight fields—the lower the total score, the higher the overall standing—provided a satisfying measure of Harvard's place in the American university pecking order: