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.

US News 2014--202120142015201620172018201920202021Avg RankChg 2014           
to 2021
Princeton1111111110
Harvard2222222220
Yale333333343.125-1
Columbia444553333.8751
Chicago544333664.25-1
Stanford544557665.25-1
MIT777753345.3753
Penn789888687.75-1
Duke78889810128.75-5
Caltech10101012101212910.6251
Johns Hopkins12121010111010910.53
Northwestern12131212111099113
Dartmouth101112111112121311.5-3
Brown141614141414141414.250
Cornell161515151416171815.75-2
Vanderbilt171615151414171415.253
Washington Univ141415191819191616.75-2
Rice181918151416171616.6252
Notre Dame181618151818151917.125-1
Emory202121202122212120.875-1
UC Berkeley202020202122222220.875-2
Georgetown202121202022242321.375-3
UCLA232323242119202021.6253
USC232523232122222422.875-1
Carnegie Mellon232523242525252624.5-3
Virginia232326242525282625-3
Wake Forest232727272727272826.625-5
Tufts282727272927293028-2
Michigan282929272827252427.1254
North Carolina303030303030292829.6252
NYU323232363030293031.3752
Rochester323333323433293432.5-2
Boston College313130313238373533.125-4
William & Mary323334323238403935-7
Georgia Tech363636343435293534.3751
Brandeis323534343435404235.75-10
UC Santa Barbara414037373730343035.7511
Case Western373837373742404238.75-5
UC San Diego393739444241373539.254
UC Davis393841444638393940.50
UC Irvine494239394233363539.37514
Boston Univ414241393742404240.5-1
RPI414241394249505344.625-12
UW Madison414741444649464244.5-1
Northeastern494247394044404943.750
Lehigh414047444653504946.25-8
Florida494847504235343041.87519
Illinois414241445246484745.125-6
Tulane525441394044404143.87511
U of Miami474851444653574949.375-2
Penn State374847505259576351.625-26
Pepperdine575452504646504950.58
UT Austin52535256564948425110
Washington 524852545659625855.125-6
Ohio St525452545456545353.625-1
Georgia 606261565446504754.513
George Washington525457565663706659.25-14
Syracuse625861606153545858.3754
Connecticut575857605663646359.75-6
SMU605861566163646661.125-6
Purdue686261605656575359.12515
Maryland626257606163645860.8754
WPI626857606159646662.125-4
Fordham575866606170746664-9
Pitt626266686870575863.8754
Clemson626261666766707466-12
Brigham Young626266686163778067.375-18
Yeshiva474852669480977670-29
Rutgers697072706956626366.3756
Texas A&M6968707469667066693
Minnesota697169716976706670.1253
Virginia Tech697170746976747472.125-5
American757172716978777673.625-1
Stevens Inst Tech827675716970748074.6252
Baylor757172717578797674.625-1
Clark7576757481669110380.125-28
UMass Amherst917675747570646673.87525
Iowa737182827889848880.875-15
Michigan St738575828185848080.625-7
Delaware757675798189919782.875-22
UC Santa Cruz868582798170849783-11
Col School of Mines918875827580848882.8753
Indiana757675869089797680.75-1
Miami Oh7576827978899110384.125-28
Marquette757686869089848884.25-13
TCU827682827880978082.1252
Florida St91959692817057588033
Binghamton978889868780798886.759
Denver918886868796978088.87511
Stony Brook828889969780918888.875-6
San Diego919589869085918889.3753
NC State1019589928180848087.7521
Colorado 86888992909610410393.5-17
Tulsa8688868687106121143100.375-57
Vermont82858992979612111897.5-36
Drexel979599969410297133101.625-36
St. Louis101999696941069710399-2
Univ at Buffalo10910399999789798895.37521
Loyola Chicago101106999910389104112101.625-11
Auburn911031029910311510797102.125-6
Tennessee101106103103103115104112105.875-11
Alabama868896103110129153143113.5-57
Oregon109106103103103102104103104.1256
New Hampshire9799103107103106125143110.375-46
Illinois Tech10911610810310396117124109.5-15
UC Riverside112113121118124859188106.524
South Carolina112113108107103106104118108.875-6
Oklahoma10110610811197124132133114-32
Iowa St101106108111115119121118112.375-17
Pacific112116108111110106125133115.125-21
Missouri9799103111120129139124115.25-27
Nebraska10199103111124129139133117.375-32
Kansas101106115118115129130124117.25-23
Dayton112103108111124127132133118.75-21
Clarkson121121115129124102117124119.125-3
Arizona11912112112412410611797116.12522
Howard1421451351241108910480116.12562
Catholic121116123124120129139143126.875-22
Michigan Tech117116123118124136147153129.25-36
Arizona St142129129129115115117103122.37539
Kentucky119129129133133147132133131.875-14
Colorado St121121127129124140166153135.125-32
Arkansas128135129135133147153160140-32