U.S. News 2014 Rankings: Lots of Changes for Public Universities

The U.S. News Best Colleges edition for 2014 is out, and the somewhat obscure changes in the magazine’s methodology this year have wrought many changes in the rankings of major public universities.

The 2013 rankings were especially unkind to public universities; the new rankings show gains by 23 of the 50 schools we follow most closely, while 19 declined and 8 remained the same.

Colorado, Penn State, Stony Brook, Vermont, and Indiana made the most dramatic gains.   The new rankings mark the second year in a row that Stony Brook has made a big leap, now ranking 82, versus 111 only two years ago.

What we do know about the changes in methodology probably explain the perhaps surprising fall of two public elites, UT Austin and Washington.  The new methodology places more emphasis on grad and retention rates, and these two schools likely did not better the expectations set by the magazine in these categories or actually fell below projected levels.  It is also possible, though less likely, that other schools performed much better in these categories than they did in 2013.

The magazine has not been forthcoming about possible changes in the weight given to academic reputation.  Both these schools have scored extremely well in that category in recent years, so a reduction in the weight of that category would hurt their rankings.

Alabama, Binghamton, Arizona State, and UC Irvine also fell by at least five places in the 2014 rankings.  It is important to keep in mind that very small statistical changes can result in a ranking difference of 4-6 places.

Below are the 50 universities we follow, showing by the symbols (-, +, or +) whether they fell, stayed the same, or gained in the rankings.  We also list each school’s rankings for a three-year span: 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Schools with gains of five or more places are listed in caps.

-Alabama—2014 (86); 2013 (77); 2012 (75)

+Arizona—2014 (119); 2013 (120); 2012 (124)

-Arizona State—2014 (142); 2013 (139); 2012 (132)

+ARKANSAS—2014 (128); 2013 (134); 2012 (132)

-Auburn—2014 (91); 2013 (89); 2012 (82)

-Binghamton—2014 (97); 2013 (89); 2012 (90)

+CLEMSON—2014 (62); 2013 (68); 2012 (68)

+COLORADO—2014 (86); 2013 (97); 2012 (94)

+CONNECTICUT–2014 (57); 2013 (63); 2012 (58)

=Delaware—2014 (75); 2013 (75); 2012 (75)

+FLORIDA–2014 (49); 2013 (54); 2012 (58)

+Georgia—2014 (60); 2013 (63); 2012 (62)

=Georgia Tech—2014 (36); 2013 (36); 2012 (36)

+ILLINOIS—2014 (41); 2013 (46); 2012 (42)

+INDIANA—2014 (75); 2013 (83); 2012 (75)

-Iowa—2014 (73); 2013 (72); 2012 (71)

=Iowa State—2014 (101); 2013 (101); 2012 (97)

+KANSAS—2014 (101); 2013 (106); 2012 (101)

-Maryland—2014 (62); 2013 (58); 2012 (55)

+MASSACHUSETTS—2014 (91); 2012 (97); 2012 (94)

+Michigan—2014 (28); 2013 (29); 2012 (28)

-Michigan State—2014 (73); 2013 (72); 2012 (71)

-Minnesota—2014 (69); 2013 (68); 2012 (68)

+Mississippi—2014 (150); 2013 (151); 2012 (143)

=Missouri—2014 (97); 2013 (97); 2012 (90)

=Nebraska—2014 (101); 2013 (101); 2012 (101)

=North Carolina—2014 (30); 2013 (30); 2012 (29)

+NC STATE—2014 (101); 2013 (106); 2012 (101)

+Ohio State—2014 (52); 2013 (56); 2012 (55)

+OREGON—2014 (109); 2013 (115); 2012 (101)

+PENN STATE—2014 (37); 2013 (46); 2012 (45)

-Pitt—2014 (62); 2013 (58); 2012 (58)

-Purdue—2014 (68); 2013 (65); 2012 (62)

-Rutgers—2014 (69); 2013 (68); 2012 (68)

+South Carolina—2014 (112); 2013 (115); 2012 (111)

+STONY BROOK—2014 (82); 2013 (92); 2012 (111)

-Texas A&M—2014 (69); 2013 (65); 2012 (58)

-UC Davis—2014 (39); 2013 (38); 2012 (38)

-UC Irvine—2014 49); 2013 (44); 2012 (45)

+UCLa 2014 (23); 2013 (24); 2012 (25)

-UC San Diego—2014 (39); 2013 (37); 2012 (38)

=UC Santa Barbara-2014 (41); 2013 (41); 2012 (42)

-University at Buffalo—2014 (109); 2013 (106); 2012 (111)

-UT Austin—2014 (52); 2013 (46); 2012 (45)

+VERMONT—2014 (82); 2013 (92); 2012 (82)

+Virginia—2014 23); 2013 (24); 2012 (25)

+Virginia Tech—2014 (69); 2013 (72); 2012 (71)

-Washington–2014 (52); 2013 (46); 2012 (42)

-Washington State—2014 (128); 2013 (125); 2012 (115)

=Wisconsin—2014 (41); 2013 (41); 2012 (42)

 

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