Average U.S. News Rankings for 123 Universities: 2014-2021

Editor’s note: This post has now been updated, effective September 14, 2020, to include new U.S. News rankings for 2021.  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 2014 through 2021. 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.

The organization deserves considerable credit for the changes in 2020 and, even more, for those made in 2021.

The new methodology definitely mitigates some of the worst effects of the old ranking system. “For the 2021 edition, U.S. News reduced the weight of SAT/ACT standardized tests to 5% (7.75% previously) and reduced the weight of high school class standing to 2% (2.25% previously) toward schools’ overall scores. The weight of alumni giving was reduced to 3% (5% previously) toward each school’s overall rank.” 

Other changes:

Two new ranking indicators that measure graduate indebtedness were added to the rankings this year:

  • Graduate indebtedness total. This is the average amount of accumulated federal loan debt among the 2019 bachelor’s degree graduating class that took out federal loans (weighted 3%). For non-responders to the U.S. News financial aid survey, the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard’s most recent cohort of institutional median graduate indebtedness was adjusted and used in its place.
  • Graduate indebtedness proportion. This is the percentage of graduates from the 2019 bachelor’s degree graduating class who borrowed federal loans (2%). For non-responders to the U.S. News financial aid survey, the College Scorecard’s most recent institutional cohort of proportion of undergraduates borrowing was adjusted and used in its place.

“U.S. News also calculated a new graduate indebtedness rank, which is the combination of the two indebtedness indicators for ranked schools. It provides a benchmark for how schools compare in terms of total graduate indebtedness among those with debt and the proportion of graduates with debt. For schools ranked highest, it means their recent bachelor’s degree graduates had relatively little debt and a relatively small proportion of students graduating with debt compared with other schools. This graduate indebtedness rank is available on each school’s Rankings section on usnews.com.”

“Outcomes weight increased: As a result of adding graduate indebtedness, the rankings factors that measure outcomes now account for 40% of the ranking, up from 35% last year. The outcomes rank displayed on each school’s Rankings section on usnews.com is composed of these ranking factors: graduation and retention rates; graduation rate performance; social mobility; and graduate indebtedness.”

Here are the historical rankings, the average of each school across eight years, and the increase or decline of each school from 2014 through 2021. The universities are listed in order of their average ranking across the years.

Here is the list.

[table id=127 /]