Average U.S. News Rankings for 123 Universities: 2012-2019

Updated September 10, 2018, to include new U.S. News rankings for 2019.  Listed below are the yearly rankings and overall average rankings of 123 national universities that were included in the first tier of the U.S. News Best Colleges from 2012 through 2019. There are 61 public and 62 private universities. The list below not only shows the average rankings over this eight-year period but also lists the number of places lost or gained by each university.

U.S. News has changed its methodology, and there are some significant changes, especially after the top 30-35 places in the rankings. Major gains for Florida, Florida State, Georgia, most UC campuses.

“New this year, we factored a school’s success at promoting social mobility by graduating students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually, though most Pell Grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000).” This has shaken up the rankings quite a bit.

More on the methodology changes in a future update.

As a group, the private universities have had an average increase in the rankings of .18 places, while the public universities have had an average decline of 3.6, demonstrating what we have observed in the past–public universities are, in general, not on an upward trajectory in the rankings. And this is a step backward compared with the last set we published, covering the years 2011–2018, but still better than 2010–2017, when public universities lost an average five places during that eight-year period while private colleges gain two places.

While we appreciate the massive amount of data that the U.S. News rankings provide on class sizes, grad rates, retention rates, and even selectivity, on the whole the rankings fail to evaluate efficiency (the number of students who receive a high-quality education at a relatively low cost) and should not use selectivity and wealth as metrics.

One reason for the sudden rise in a school’s ranking is increased “gaming” of the rankings. Some institutions, public and private, but mostly the latter, have geared their marketing and merit aid to increase the number of applicants and lower their acceptance rates accordingly. This makes them more “selective” and helps to improve their rankings.

The U.S. News rankings not only over-emphasize the metrics related to a university’s financial resources but also, especially in the last five years or so, reward selectivity when, in fact, the results of the selectivity are already considered. Why should Stanford be rewarded for having an acceptance rate of 5% and be rewarded for having high graduation and retention rates, both of which are largely the result of selectivity. Using test scores as a factor in predicting what grad rates should be is fine, as is rewarding or penalizing schools for exceeding or not meeting such predictions. But the high scores themselves and the low acceptance percentages merely duplicate what is more properly measured by outcomes.

Here are the historical rankings, the average of each school across eight years, and the increase or decline of each school from 2012 through 2019. The universities are listed in order of their average ranking across the years.

Here is the list.

US News 2012--201920122013201420152016201720182019Avg RankChg 2012
to 2019
Princeton1111111110
Harvard112222221.75-1
Yale3333333330
Columbia444445534.1251
Chicago545443333.8752
Stanford565445575.125-2
MIT567777535.8752
Penn587898887.625-3
Duke1087888988.252
Caltech5101010101210129.875-7
Dartmouth111010111211111211-1
Johns Hopkins131312121010111011.3753
Northwestern121212131212111011.752
Brown151514161414141414.51
Cornell151516151515141615.125-1
Washington Univ141414141519181915.875-5
Vanderbilt171717161515141415.6253
Rice171718191815141616.751
Notre Dame191718161815181817.3751
Emory202020212120212220.625-2
UC Berkeley212120202020212220.625-1
Georgetown222120212120202220.8750
USC2324232523232122231
UCLA252423232324211922.756
Carnegie Mellon232323252324252523.875-2
Virginia252423232624252524.3750
Wake Forest252723272727272726.25-2
Tufts292828272727292727.752
Michigan282928292927282728.1251
North Carolina293030303030303029.875-1
Boston College313131313031323831.875-7
NYU333232323236303032.1253
William & Mary333332333432323833.375-5
Brandeis313332353434343533.5-4
Rochester353332333332343333.1252
Georgia Tech363636363634343535.3751
Case Western383737383737374237.875-4
UC San Diego373839373944424139.625-4
UC Santa Barbara424141403737373038.12512
UC Davis383839384144463840.250
Lehigh383841404744465343.375-15
RPI504141424139424943.1251
UC Irvine454449423939423341.62512
UW Madison424141474144464943.875-7
Illinois454641424144524644.625-1
Boston Univ535141424139374243.2511
U of Miami384447485144465346.375-15
Penn State454637484750525948-14
Tulane505152544139404446.3756
Washington 424652485254565951.125-17
Florida585449484750423547.87523
Northeastern625649424739404447.37518
UT Austin454652535256564951.125-4
Pepperdine555457545250464651.759
George Washington505152545756566354.875-13
Ohio St555652545254545654.125-1
Yeshiva454647485266948059.75-35
Fordham535857586660617060.375-17
Maryland555862625760616359.75-8
SMU625860586156616359.875-1
Georgia 62636062615654465816
Syracuse625862586160615359.3759
Connecticut586357585760566359-5
Purdue626568626160565661.256
WPI626562685760615961.753
Pitt585862626668687064-12
Clemson6868626261666766652
Brigham Young716862626668616365.1258
Texas A&M586569687074696667.375-8
Minnesota686869716971697670.125-8
Rutgers686869707270695667.7512
Virginia Tech717269717074697671.5-5
Baylor757775717271757874.25-3
American827775717271697874.3754
Iowa717273718282788977.25-18
Delaware757575767579818978.125-14
Michigan St717273857582818578-14
Stevens Inst Tech887582767571697075.7518
Col School of Mines757791887582758080.375-5
Indiana758375767586908981.125-14
UC Santa Cruz757786858279817079.3755
Clark94837576757481667828
Miami Oh908975768279788982.251
Marquette828375768686908983.375-7
UMass Amherst949791767574757081.524
Tulsa7583868886868710687.125-31
TCU979282768282788083.62517
Denver828391888686879687.375-14
Binghamton8889978889868780888
Vermont829282858992979689.375-14
Alabama757786889610311012995.5-54
Colorado 949786888992909691.5-2
San Diego979291958986908590.62512
Drexel8883979599969410294.25-14
St. Louis88921019996969410696.5-18
Auburn8289911031029910311598-33
Stony Brook1119282888996978091.87531
Florida St1019791959692817090.37531
NC State101106101958992818093.12521
Missouri90979799103111120129105.75-39
New Hampshire1011069799103107103106102.75-5
Tennessee101101101106103103103115104.125-14
Iowa St94101101106108111115119106.875-25
Oklahoma10110110110610811197124106.125-23
Nebraska10110110199103111124129108.625-28
Univ at Buffalo11110610910399999789101.62522
Loyola Chicago119106101106999910389102.7530
Oregon101115109106103103103102105.25-1
Pacific101106112116108111110106108.75-5
Kansas101106101106115118115129111.375-28
Dayton101115112103108111124127112.625-26
Illinois Tech11111310911610810310396107.37515
South Carolina111115112113108107103106109.3755
UC Riverside9710111211312111812485108.87512
Michigan Tech111120117116123118124136120.625-25
Catholic119120121116123124120129121.5-10
Clarkson119115121121115129124102118.2517
Arizona124120119121121124124106119.87518
Howard1111201421451351241108912222
Colorado St128134121121127129124140128-12
Kentucky124125119129129133133147129.875-23
Arizona St132139142129129129115115128.7517
Arkansas132134128135129135133147134.125-15

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