Attorneys Investigating Lawsuit Over USC Rossier Ranking Scandal
Last Updated on January 20, 2023
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Students who were enrolled in an online graduate degree program with the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education from April 1, 2009 through April 27, 2022.
- What’s Going On?
- Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating reports that the university submitted false data to artificially inflate Rossier’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of best graduate schools and used its spot on the list to promote its online programs. They’re now looking to speak to current and former online graduate students to see if they can get a class action lawsuit on file.
- How Could a Class Action Help?
- A class action lawsuit could give current and former online graduate students a chance to recover part of their tuition. It’s believed that these students paid more than they would have had they known the school’s ranking was allegedly based on false information.
Attorneys are investigating whether they can file a class action lawsuit on behalf of students who were enrolled in an online graduate degree program with the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education from April 1, 2009 through April 27, 2022.
Reports have surfaced of “a history of inaccuracies” in data submitted by the school for inclusion in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of best graduate schools of education, leading Rossier to rank higher than it should have for years.
Specifically, it has been alleged that USC cherry-picked the data it submitted concerning Rossier’s selectivity – a criterion considered by U.S. News in its rankings and designed to measure competitiveness – to artificially inflate its position on the list. The school then allegedly used these false rankings to promote its online programs, positioning them as just as high quality as in-person offerings, even though the data submitted on selectivity did not pertain to any of Rossier’s online programs.
Attorneys believe online graduate students were therefore misled into enrollment with Rossier and are now owed part of their tuition back.
How Were Rossier’s Rankings Allegedly Inflated?
It has been alleged that beginning in 2008, USC sent to U.S. News admissions selectivity data covering only a small percentage of its in-person doctoral students, namely those participating in Rossier’s highly competitive Ph.D. program. The university allegedly never submitted data on its less-competitive Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, which is offered both in person and online, or on any other online program, as this would have caused the school’s ranking to tank.
The submission of the allegedly skewed data is said to have caused the school to consistently – and fraudulently – rank in the top 20, reaching an all-time high of 10 in 2018. Despite the fact that the cherry-picked data used to rank the school did not pertain to online courses, USC allegedly utilized its spot on the prestigious list to promote and increase enrollment in its virtual programs.
When the data scandal came to light during an internal investigation, USC asked U.S. News not to include Rossier in its graduate school rankings for 2023.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
Attorneys believe that many students would not have enrolled in online programs with Rossier – or at least wouldn’t have paid as much for them – had they known the truth behind the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings.
It has been reported that online degrees with the school run between $38,000 and $148,000, and now attorneys are looking to see if they can file a class action to help students get some of their money back.
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