U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today announced the 2020 U.S. News Best Colleges. Princeton University remains No. 1 among National Universities, while Williams College is once again in the top spot among National Liberal Arts Colleges. This year, public schools in California, Florida and New York excel in enrolling and graduating large proportions of low-income students. Further, the University of California—Los Angeles maintains its spot as the No. 1 Top Public School among National Universities.
To help families with choosing a college, U.S. News updated its offerings for the 2020 edition of Best Colleges. Here’s what’s new this year:
• A new ranking of Top Performers on Social Mobility. The new ranking evaluates which schools best serve underrepresented students. Using Pell Grants as a proxy measure, the ranking looks at enrollment and graduation rates of low-income students. Schools in the University of California system, including Riverside, Santa Cruz and Irvine, all succeed in this area. Tied for No. 4 on the list are the University of La Verne in California, Howard University in the District of Columbia and Rutgers University—Newark in New Jersey. Also ranked highly for social mobility are New York public schools like SUNY—Albany and SUNY—Buffalo, as well as Florida public schools like the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.
• Rankings of Academic Programs to Look For. U.S. News published eight new rankings of schools with programs such as Study Abroad (Elon University in North Carolina is No. 1), First-Year Experiences (Agnes Scott College in Georgia is No. 1), Co-ops/Internships (Northeastern University in Massachusetts is No. 1) and more. Previously, these were alphabetical lists.
• Factoring first-generation college students into the Best Colleges overall methodology. This variable is included in the graduation rate performance metric, giving schools more credit for supporting first-generation students through graduation.
• Updates to the ranking categories, establishing new playing fields for schools. About 13% of ranked schools moved into different categories this year. For example, a university ranked previously as a Regional University may now be a National University. That is because of the “2018 update” from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, which U.S. News has used since the first Best Colleges rankings in 1983 to compare schools with similar missions.
• Updated rankings and lists for Best Value Schools, Most Innovative Schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, A-plus Schools for B Students, Economic Diversity, Campus Ethnic Diversity, Most International Students, Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs, Best Undergraduate Business Programs and more.
“For more than three decades, we’ve collected and analyzed data on thousands of colleges and universities across the country and helped put schools on the map,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “We’ve found the best institutions to be ones committed to academically and financially supporting their students through graduation. They draw in high-quality professors and set students up for postgraduate success.”
U.S. News ranked nearly 1,400 colleges and universities for the 35th edition of the rankings. The mission has always been to broaden education options for students, and in that, U.S. News has succeeded. Nearly 90% of visitors coming to Best Colleges on usnews.com are looking at schools outside the top 10 National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges.
To calculate the top schools, U.S. News focuses on academic quality and places emphasis on outcome measures – including graduation rates, retention rates and social mobility. Outcomes are the mostly highly weighted ranking factor, contributing 35% to each school’s overall score.
1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Columbia University (NY) (tie)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)
3. Yale University (CT) (tie)
1. Williams College (MA)
2. Amherst College (MA)
3. Swarthmore College (PA) (tie)
3. Wellesley College (MA) (tie)
Top Public Schools
1. University of California—Los Angeles
2. University of California—Berkeley
3. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
1. United States Naval Academy (MD)
2. United States Military Academy (NY)
3. United States Air Force Academy (CO)
Top Performers on Social Mobility
1. University of California—Riverside
2. University of California—Santa Cruz
3. University of California—Irvine
1. Cornell College (IA)
2. Agnes Scott College (GA)
3. Houghton College (NY)
In addition to the rankings, U.S. News offers postgraduate salary information on 1,500 schools using data provided by PayScale. U.S. News College Compass subscribers will have access to salary data broken down by major at each school. Prospective students can also see ratings and reviews by current students, alumni and faculty on schools’ profile pages. Alongside the reviews are Q&A sections for each school, answering questions on topics like campus dining and extracurricular activities.
The launch of this edition of U.S. News Best Colleges is being sponsored by Fidelity Investments, one of the leading providers of retirement solutions to colleges and universities. To learn more about the U.S. News College Compass, or to order a copy of the “Best Colleges 2020” guidebook (ISBN 978-1-931469-94-4), visit the online U.S. News store.