Average and Year by Year U.S. News Rankings for 123 National Universities, 2017–2024. Big Changes!

This is our annual summary of US News rankings of national universities across the most recent eight-year period. We have other posts and pages on this site with US News statistics going back to 1983. In all the years we have surveyed the rankings, the 2024 has brought the most dramatic changes. The main reason is a much greater emphasis on metrics of social mobility and related outcomes versus traditional metrics of test scores, class sizes, and institutional wealth.

Some critics of the rankings, and they are legion, claim that US News changes its methodology so frequently that year to year comparisons are almost meaningless. And it is certainly striking that the flagship universities of Kentucky, Alabama, and Nebraska could have fallen 73, 63, and 48 places respectively between 2017 and 2024. Yet the new rankings are a boost to many public universities, whose rankings as a whole have risen an average of four places since 2021 and almost two places since 2017.

Indeed, when compared to rankings for 2017, eleven public universities have gained at least 20 places, led by UC Riverside with a gain of 42 places. Rutgers, NC State, Stony Brook, and Oregon all rose 30 or more places.

Most complaints have come from private universities–and with reason. The average 2024 rankings for the 62 private universities in our continuing survey declined by a whopping 14 points since 2017 and by 8 points since last year. Although the most dramatic declines have occurred for private universities ranked out of the top 50 in most years, even elite institutions such as Chicago, Dartmouth, and Columbia have dropped 9, 7, and 7 points respectively during that timeframe.

“With rankings, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug,” consultant Teresa Valerio Parrot pithily explained to the influential site Inside Higher Ed (IHE). “I feel like we got to see a number of institutions who in the past have either been silent or have praised where they are in the rankings, and with this year’s methodology change suddenly have objections and grievances … that’s not really a great look.”

In the same piece, Christopher Newfield, a higher education scholar and the research director of the Independent Social Research Foundation in London, said that now “the product that’s being sold is social mobility. That’s an improvement over status and prestige. But neither of those things are about the intellectual, nonpecuniary benefits of a college education.”

Nothing other than a dramatic shift in methodology can explain a one-year drop of 18 points for Wake Forest, 29 points for Tulane, 26 points for Brigham Young, and 33 points for American.

The view here is that the most successful universities overall are those who combine a commitment to social mobility and academic excellence with sufficient resources to achieve both goals. Many elite private universities fall into this category and will continue to receive high rankings. Some private universities that have done well in the past will have to adjust to the new metrics, a difficult task if the resources are lacking.

As for public universities, the UC system has for years operated according to these principles and still rises in the rankings. Florida and North Carolina are notable for providing excellent academics at low cost. UT Austin, UW Madison, UIUC, UW Seattle, Georgia, Maryland, and Ohio State have had some ups and downs in the rankings but now seem to be operating pursuant to goals that also align well with the new metrics. For years we have criticized US News for its over-emphasis on wealth metrics. Now we say congratulations for developing a methodology with much better balance.

Below is the table showing the ranking changes from 2017 to 2024. Universities are listed in order of their 2024 rank.

US News 2016--202320172018201920202021202220232024Avg RankDif 2017-2024
Johns Hopkins1011101099799.3751
UC Berkeley202122222221201520.3755
Notre Dame151818151919182017.75-5
North Carolina303030292828292228.258
Washington Univ191819191614152418-5
Carnegie Mellon242525252625222424.50
UC San Diego444241373534342836.87516
UC Davis444638393938382838.7516
UT Austin565649484238383244.87524
UC Irvine3942333635363433366
Georgia Tech343435293538443335.251
UC Santa Barbara373730343028323532.8752
UW Madison444649464242383542.759
Boston College313238373536363935.5-8
Washington 545659625859554055.37514
Boston Univ393742404242414340.75-4
Ohio St545456545349494351.511
Wake Forest272727272828294730-20
Georgia 565446504748494749.6259
Virginia Tech746976747475624768.87527
Texas A&M746966706668674765.87527
William & Mary323238403938415339.125-21
Case Western373742404242445342.125-16
Florida St928170575855555365.12539
Stony Brook96978091889377588538
NC State928180848079726078.532
Penn State505259576363776060.125-10
Michigan St82818584808377607922
U of Miami444653574955556753.25-23
George Washington565663706663626762.875-11
UMass Amherst747570646668676768.8757
Stevens Inst Tech716970748083837675.75-5
UC Riverside11812485918883897694.2542
Col School of Mines827580848883897682.1256
Univ at Buffalo999789798893897688.7523
UC Santa Cruz7981708497103838284.875-3
San Diego869085918893979891-12
Illinois Tech11112012913912412212798121.2513
Colorado 96941069710310397105100.125-9
Saint Louis10310310210410399105105103-2
Arizona St9910389104112103121105104.5-6
Brigham Young6861637780798911579-47
Iowa St10310396117124122127115113.375-12
New Hampshire124120129139143127137115129.259
South Carolina111115119121118122115124118.125-13
Miami Oh7978899110310310513397.625-54
Loyola Chicago103103115104112103115142112.125-39
Michigan Tech129124140166153148151151145.25-22
Colorado St135133147153160148151151147.25-16
TOTAL AVG62.568.765.06-6.22




US News Academic Reputation Score Changes, 2015 vs 2023, vs National Rankings

One of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. News national university rankings is the use of “undergraduate academic reputation” scores based on the “expert opinion” of the 43.6 percent of college presidents, deans, and provosts who actually return the peer assessment documents to U.S. News. Each response rates a university’s academic reputation on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.

The academic reputation category itself counts for 20 percent of the total ranking, a hefty impact indeed. Since 2015, the mean scores for 99 national universities have risen by .14, from 3.67 to 3.81, or almost 4 percent. A rise or fall of .1 or .2 seems to have minimal positive impact on a university’s ranking, while a rise or fall of .3 more likely indicates a real shift in perception and ranking..

The most likely explanation for the minimal impact, in general, of reputation score increases of less than .3 is that changes in the U.S. News rankings methodology that includes measures for “social mobility” and “graduate indebtedness” have, in many cases, overridden or undermined the impact of marginally higher scores for academic reputation.

Only one university, Northeastern, rose by .4–yet the overall ranking for Northeastern fell from 42 to 44 between 2015 and 2023. The reputation score of 11 universities rose by .3: Notre Dame, NYU, Purdue, Boston University, Virginia Tech, Georgia, UMass Amherst, UConn, Utah, UC Santa Cruz, and Florida State. For this group, the ranking for 9 or the 11 universities rose, while the other 2 fell. Only Notre Dame and UConn dropped in the rankings as their reputation scores rose.

Below is a table showing the changes in academic reputation scores and overall rankings for 99 national universities, 2015-2023, sorted by academic reputation ranking in 2023.

Copy of Rsp vs rank 2023.xlsx

UniversityRep 2015Rep 2023changeRank 2015Rank 2023change
UC Berkeley4.74.7020200
Johns Hopkins4.54.70.21275
Carnegie Mellon4.24.30.125223
Georgia Tech4.24.30.13644-8
North Carolina4.14.20.130291
Notre Dame3.94.20.31418-4
UW Madison4.14.1047389
UT Austin44.10.1533815
Washington 4404855-7
UC San Diego3.83.90.137343
Ohio St3.73.90.254495
UC Davis3.83.90.138380
William & Mary3.73.90.23341-8
UC Irvine3.63.80.242348
Boston Univ3.53.80.342411
Boston College3.63.80.23136-5
Penn State3.63.70.14877-29
Texas A&M3.63.70.168671
Virginia Tech3.43.70.371629
Case Western3.53.70.23844-6
Wake Forest3.53.70.22729-2
UC Santa Barbara3.53.60.140328
Michigan St3.53.60.185778
George Washington3.53.60.15162-11
UMass Amherst3.23.50.376679
Stony Brook3.23.40.2887711
Col School of Mines3.33.40.18889-1
U of Miami3.23.40.24855-7
Arizona St3.23.30.11291218
UC Santa Cruz33.30.385832
NC State3.13.30.2957223
Florida St33.30.3955639
Iowa St3.23.20106127-21
Brigham Young33.20.26289-27
Miami Oh3.13.20.176105-29
UC Riverside3.13.101138924
Washington St33.1138212-74
George Mason33.10.1128137-9







Average US News Rankings for 125 Universities, 2016–2023

NOTE: This post will be updated within a few days to include the 8-year period 2017-2024, thus including the US News rankings released in September 2024.

Below is our annual update of US News average rankings across the most recent eight-year period. Our first effort, covering the years 2014-2021, showed that public university rankings as a whole declined by 4.4 percent during that timeframe, while the decline for private universities was slightly less at 4.3 percent.

This time around, public universities have made significant gains overall, reflecting in part the changes in US News methodology. The overall rankings for publics did decline, but only by 3.0 percent. Meanwhile, the overall rankings for private universities declined by 5.4 percent.

The table below does not include universities that moved into the national university category since 2014 or that were not rated among the top 125 in that category in 2014. But here is a list of those and their 2023 ranking.

Villanova, 51; Santa Clara, 55; Loyola Marymount, 77; Gonzaga, 83; Elon, 89; Illinois-Chicago, 97; NJIT, 97; South Florida UCF, 97; UC Merced, 97; RIT, 105; Utah, 105; Creighton, 115; Rutgers Newark, 115; and Temple, 121.

The new list has several dramatic changes, some of them making sense only if there were major adjustments or corrections to the data reported from the universities. For example, the ranking of Penn State was 47 in 2016 but 77 in 2023. The most dramatic improvement among publics was Florida State, which moved from 96 to 55 during the eight years. Undoubtedly, the biggest change among elite private institutions was the drop of Columbia from 4 to 18 across the same span of years. The decline came after accusations by a math professor that Columbia “fudged” numbers in previous years.

In the coming weeks we will also post our annual comparison of US News Rankings, academic reputation rankings, and departmental rankings.

US News 2016--202320162017201820192020202120222023Avg RankChg 2016
to 2023
Johns Hopkins10101110109979.53
Washington Univ151918191916141516.8750
Notre Dame181518181519191817.50
UC Berkeley2020212222222120210
Carnegie Mellon232425252526252224.3751
Wake Forest272727272728282927.5-2
North Carolina303030302928282929.251
UC Santa Barbara373737303430283233.1255
UC San Diego394442413735343438.255
UC Irvine393942333635363436.755
Boston College303132383735363634.375-6
UC Davis414446383939383840.3753
UT Austin525656494842383847.37514
UW Madison414446494642423843.53
William & Mary343232384039384136.75-7
Boston Univ413937424042424140.50
Georgia Tech363434352935384435.625-8
Case Western373737424042424440.125-7
Georgia 615654465047484951.37512
Ohio St525454565453494952.6253
U of Miami514446535749555551.25-4
Florida St969281705758555570.541
Washington 525456596258595556.875-3
George Washington575656637066636261.625-5
Virginia Tech707469767474756271.758
Texas A&M707469667066686768.753
UMass Amherst757475706466686769.8758
NC State899281808480797282.12517
Penn State475052595763637758.5-30
Michigan St758281858480837780.875-2
Stony Brook899697809188937788.87512
Stevens Inst Tech757169707480838375.625-8
UC Santa Cruz8279817084971038384.875-1
Brigham Young666861637780798972.875-23
UC Riverside121118124859188838999.87532
Col School of Mines758275808488838982-14
Univ at Buffalo999997897988938991.62510
San Diego898690859188939789.875-8
Colorado 969694106971031039799-1
Saint Louis10310310310210410399105102.75-2
Miami Oh827978899110310310591.25-23
Loyola Chicago103103103115104112103115107.25-12
South Carolina108111115119121118122115116.125-7
Arizona St999910389104112103121103.75-22
Iowa St10810310396117124122127112.5-19
Illinois Tech103111120129139124122127121.875-24
New Hampshire123124120129139143127137130.25-14
Michigan Tech127129124140166153148151142.25-24
Colorado St129135133147153160148151144.5-22

Some New Honors College “Rankings” Have Appeared Elsewhere; Here’s Our Take

By John Willingham, Editor

Recently, Google searches are listing two new sites that claim to rank public university honors programs and honors colleges. Their “rankings” in most instances bear a close resemblance to the ratings we have produced since 2012. Aside from the likelihood of  extensive (unattributed) borrowing from our copyrighted work, the fact is that most of the data necessary to rank or rate these programs is not publicly available. We are the only site or organization in the country that does have access, gained only after many years of dialogue and collaboration with honors deans and directors across the nation. One wonders how these new rankings were developed. Or were they mostly “borrowed”?

Our collaborative process yields enormous amounts of data. For example, to calculate honors class sizes, we have to analyze about 10,000 honors classes for each addition. Much of the data required for this analysis is not available on honors sites or even on university-wide course schedules.

And still we do not “rank” programs. Typically, I have an opinion, based on data, about the best five to ten programs in the nation among those rated in a given edition. The data may show that one is “better” (a higher point total) than all the rest. And then I think about how I have weighted each of the 13 rating categories. If I were to change any of them, the ratings would change. All is driven by the methodology, and nobody’s methodology is perfect. It is a matter of judgment in the final analysis. It is not scientific in the truest sense, even with all the data involved. I can give you an exact figure for honors class sizes at Honors College A, but the rating proportion I assign to that exact figure is subjective.

If it’s not science, don’t present it as science. Ordinal rankings present themselves as science. But just imagine how the U.S. News rankings would change if all the institutional wealth metrics were removed or if selectivity did not count.

Thanks to the cooperation of honors deans and directors across the nation, we now receive for each rated profile 10-20 pages of documents, much of it hard data on class sections and course offerings. No one else obtains this level of unique data. Even by going online and reading every entry in the university’s course schedule one will not find the volume and specificity of data that we need for honors course analyses. That’s because honors programs offer mixed and contract sections that are not transparent in online course listings.

This brings us to the new rankings.

One lists “The 9 Best Honors Programs” in the nation. Here is the methodology:

“To put together our list, we evaluated the national honors college rankings from the past two years. We also evaluated honors colleges based on admissions requirements, curricular and extracurricular program offerings, emphasis on fostering an honors student community, financial aid opportunities, and unique or innovative approaches to the honors educational experience.” [Emphasis added.]

First, how does someone quantify “an emphasis on fostering an honors student community” or “innovative approaches to the honors educational experience”?

Second, I do not know of any “national honors college rankings,” although we announce the top 5-10 programs, in one alphabetical group, every other year. These programs are “top” only within the data set of rated programs for a given edition. No program is declared number one, or number three, or number ten for that data set, much less for the entire universe of honors programs. They are a instead placed in a group. Our refusal to anoint any program with a specific ranking number has, in fact, caused one prominent program to stop cooperating with us.

The “9 Best” site does not hesitate to do so: “Ranked #1 among honors colleges in the United States, Barrett College has a presence on ASU’s four campuses in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Glendale, Arizona.” Although Barrett, under its longstanding Dean, Mark Jacobs, achieves excellent results year in and year out, I do not know of any recent ranking that specifically lists Barrett or any other honors program or college as number 1. It is true that Barrett has been in the highest (five mortarboard) group in all of our editions. But so has the South Carolina Honors College, Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College, the Plan II Honors Program at UT Austin, the University Honors Program at Kansas, and, since 2016, the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. These are very different programs, ranging from extremely large (Barrett) to very small (UT Plan II.)

Other strong programs are at Clemson, Delaware, Georgia, Houston, and Ole Miss. Data from Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina is no longer available, but in one or more previous editions, all received excellent ratings.

The “9 Best” site above also lists Penn State Schreyer, Clemson, and Rutgers Honors College among the best honors colleges, and adds UT Plan II, Kansas UHP, and the Echols Scholar program at UVA. Then in a “best bang for the buck” category, it lists CUNY Macaulay and the Alabama Honors College. (We have not included Echols after the 2014 edition because the new methodology in place since 2016 requires much more class data. Echols students can take almost any class at UVA, and it’s not possible to determine which ones those are at any given time.)

Another site lists “the top 50 honors programs and colleges”-a list which bears an uncanny resemblance to programs we have rated over the years. The list includes several programs that were not prominently mentioned until they appeared in one of our books: New Jersey Institute of Technology, Temple, Colorado State, and CUNY Macaulay, among them.

Here is the methodology behind this list:

“Below, we have compiled a list of the nation’s top honors colleges/programs. The selection was based on the following indicators of program quality.

  • The selectivity of the college/university (overall)
  • The selectivity of the honors program
  • Average honors class size
  • Number of honors classes
  • Availability of honors housing
  • Whether priority registration is offered to honors students

“Schools marked with an asterisk (*) rated especially high on several indicators and were ranked among the top 20 honors programs according to our methodology.”

All of the above information is in our publications. Further, “availability” of honors housing can be calculated only if one knows both the number of honors “beds” and the number of eligible honors students. One can know the true number of honors classes only if there is access to full spreadsheets, not just online listings, especially those limited to the honors homepage. And the true average class size likewise relies on extremely detailed data not available from online sources. Finally, some of the test scores listed on the site are incorrect and misleading.

Yes, I realize that U.S. News has several competitors in ranking colleges and universities. And, often, many of these rankings roughly correspond, especially at the most elite brand level. But…these competing ranking organizations all gather their own data, even while applying different methodologies, refrain from unseemly borrowing.

Here Are Honors Programs to Be Featured in 2020 Edition of Inside Honors

The 2020 edition of Inside Honors was to have included in-depth ratings of 33 programs and somewhat shorter reviews of an additional seven programs. The COVID-19 issues facing universities will delay the next edition until October 2020 and has reduced the original number of programs that committed to participate. Most of the top-rated programs in previous editions will likewise be rated in 2020.

One positive: The new edition will include a new narrative section that summarizes each program and each profile will be longer, averaging 3,500 words.

The 33 programs that will now receive full ratings are below:

Appalachian State
Arizona State
Central Florida (UCF)
College of Charleston
Colorado State
CUNY Macaulay
Florida Atlantic
Georgia State
Nevada Reno
UNC Wilmington
Oklahoma State
Penn State
South Carolina
South Florida (USF)
UT Chattanooga
Texas Tech
UT Austin
Virginia Commonwealth
Washington State
West Virginia

Below are the seven programs that will receive unrated reviews:

North Carolina Charlotte
South Dakota St
Virginia Tech


U.S. News 2020: Dept Rank vs Academic Rep vs Overall Rank Plus Social Mobility

The post is by editor John Willingham.

Yes, the title of this post is a mouthful. For years now, I have kept an updated list of the departmental rankings that U.S. News publishes so that I can add them to the biannual profiles I do of honors programs. When the 2020 rankings came out, I wanted to see whether there was any clear relationship between the departmental scores and the academic reputation scores. Then I compared the latest reputation scores with those published in 2015 to see how much had changed. Finally, the table below also includes changes in university rankings and the most recent rankings for social mobility.

(I would welcome comments on this post. Please email editor@publicuniversityhonors.com.)

It appears that the social mobility metric has had some impact, especially if the ranking is very strong, as in the case of many UC campuses and Florida institutions. There is no clear relationship between departmental scores and academic reputation scores. Departmental rankings do have a modest relationship to the overall U.S. News rankings, but there are many inconsistencies. Academic reputation scores do seem to show some “grade inflation” since 2015; often this is the case even when the U.S News ranking has dropped significantly.

The table below includes data for 100 public and private universities.

The cumulative rankings that I do for 15 academic disciplines requires some explanation. U.S. News only ranks graduate programs for most departments. Here are the disciplines for which I have cumulative departmental rankings, using the most recent data (2018): biological sciences; business (undergrad); chemistry, computer science; earth sciences; economics; education; engineering (undergrad);English; history; mathematics; physics; political science; psychology; and sociology.

Not every university has a ranked department in each of the 15 disciplines. I averaged departmental rankings for every university that had at least six ranked departments. For universities with, say, fewer than 12 ranked departments, the total ranking will be artificially high because only the best departments are ranked and I cannot include unranked departents. Most universities have 12-15 departments that are ranked, and so the overall average will be more useful for them. And some of the universities with a small number of ranked departments are specialized, such as Georgia Tech and Caltech. Clearly, even ranking only six or seven departments for those schools and getting a strong result is not misleading.

Universities with fewer than 10 departmental rankings: Colorado School of Mines; Georgia Tech; Miami Ohio; American; Brigham Young; Caltech; Dartmouth; Drexel; Fordham; Georgetown; and RPI.

It should be said that universities with relatively low departmental rankings can legitimately receive high rankings because of other meaningful factors, such as grad and retention rates and class size. Some excellent universities do not have an especially strong research focus or a lot of graduate programs. Dartmouth is one prominent example.

The universities below appear in rank order of their 2020 academic reputation, according to U.S. News.

UNIVERSITYAvg Dept RankDept RankRep ScoreRep RankRep ScoreRep DifUS NewsRank Dif2020 Rank
NAME15 Disciplines 2018Ordinal2020202020152020 v 2015Rank 20202015-2020Soc Mobility
UC Berkeley3.224.764.7022-270
Johns Hopkins21.93194.764.50.2102241
Carnegie Mellon27.73294.3184.20.1250303
Georgia Tech33.7374.3184.20.1297224
Notre Dame45.43474.2223.90.315-1322
North Carolina23.79214.1264.10291165
UW Madison12.93124.1264.10461297
UT Austin14.47144.12640.1485134
Washington 22.2203.9324-162-14176
UC Davis28.14303.9323.80.139-19
UC San Diego25.93243.9323.80.137021
William & Mary69363.8373.70.140-7354
Ohio St26.4253.8373.70.1540254
UC Irvine32.53353.8373.60.23663
Penn State27.27263.7433.60.157-9348
Boston College50.27543.7433.60.137-6270
Texas A&M41.6423.7433.60.170-296
Case Western72.91773.7433.50.240-2214
Boston Univ48.67523.7433.50.2402270
Colorado 33.2363.7433.50.2104-16359
Virginia Tech52.31603.7433.40.374-3322
Wake Forest98.75933.6533.50.1270360
UC Santa Barbara35.21383.6533.50.13469
Georgia 63653.6533.40.25013159
George Washington76.92833.5603.5070-19322
Michigan St42.13433.5603.50841241
Col School of Mines74.83793.5603.30.2844303
U of Miami85.69873.5603.20.357-9270
UMass Amherst48.57513.4683.20.26412186
Arizona St45.67483.4683.20.211712147
Stony Brook46.46503.3763.20.191-324
Iowa St50.27543.3763.20.1121-15270
Florida St68.8733.37630.3573880
Miami Oh94.11913.2833.10.191-15369
NC State67.09703.2833.10.18411224
Brigham Young80.22843.28330.277-15291
UC Riverside64.33693.1923.1091221
UC Santa Cruz59.71623.19230.18412
Washington St84.5863.19230.1166-28176
George Mason93.67903.19230.1153-25125
MEAN SCORES/RANKS49.9083503.77247.713.6610.10256.96-2.51229.38



Academic Reputation Rankings for 155 National Universities (and What That Means for Honors)

Editor’s Note: We hope to update this post before the end of September 2019. The list appears after the introductory section. The list was current as of September 25, 2018.

In a previous post, Based on Academic Reputation Alone, Publics Would Be Higher in U.S. News Rankings, we write that many public universities have a reputation in the academic community that is much higher than their overall ranking by U.S. News. In this post, we will summarize the reasons that prospective honors students and their parents might consider paying more attention to academic reputation than to other factors in the oft-cited rankings. The list also facilitates comparisons of public and private universities.

First, these are factors to consider if the state university’s academic reputation is much stronger than its overall ranking:

1. The overall rankings penalize public universities for their typically larger class sizes, but the average honors class size in our most recent study of honors programs is 24.9 students, much smaller than the average class size for the universities as a whole.  Many of these honors classes are lower-division, where the preponderance of large classes is often the norm. First-year honors seminars and classes for honors-only students average 17.5 students per section.  Result:  the relatively poor rating the whole university might receive for class size is offset for honors students.

2. The overall rankings hit some public universities hard for having relatively low retention and graduation percentages, but freshmen retention rates in honors programs are in the 90% range and higher; meanwhile six-year grad rates for honors entrants average 87%–much higher than the average rates for the universities as a whole.  Result: the lower rates for the universities as a whole are offset for honors students.

3. All public universities suffer in the overall rankings because U.S. News assigns ranking points for both the wealth of the university as a whole and for the impact that wealth has on professors’ salaries, smaller class sizes, etc.  This is a double whammy in its consideration of inputs and outputs separately; only the outputs should be rated.  Result: the outputs for class size (see above) are offset for honors students, and the wealth of the university as an input should not be considered in the first place.

4. For highly-qualified students interested in graduate or professional school, academic reputation and the ability to work with outstanding research faculty are big advantages. Honors students have enhanced opportunities to work with outstanding faculty members even in large research universities, many of which are likely to have strong departmental rankings in the student’s subject area.  Result: honors students are not penalized for the research focus of public research universities; instead, they benefit from it.

5. Many wealthy private elites are generous in funding all, or most, need-based aid, but increasingly offer little or no merit aid. This means that families might receive all the need-based aid they “deserve” according to a federal or institutional calculation and still face annual college costs of $16,000 to $50,000. On the other hand, national scholars and other highly-qualified students can still receive significant merit aid at most public universities. Result: if a public university has an academic reputation equal to that of a wealthy private elite, an honors student could be better off financially and not suffer academically in a public honors program.

But…what if the academic reputation of the public university is lower than that of a private school under consideration?  In this case, the public honors option should offer the following offsets:

1.The net cost advantage of the public university, including merit aid, probably needs to be significant.

2. It is extremely important to evaluate the specific components of the honors program to determine if it provides a major “value-added” advantage–is it, relatively, better than the university as a whole. Often, the answer will be yes. To determine how much better, look at the academic disciplines covered by the honors program, the actual class sizes, retention and graduation rates, research opportunities, and even honors housing and perks, such as priority registration.

The rankings below are on a 5.0 scale, and there are many ties. We have included national universities with reputations rankings between 2.7 and 4.9.

University Acad Rep Ranking
Princeton 4.9 1
Harvard 4.9 1
Stanford 4.9 1
MIT 4.9 1
Yale 4.7 5
Columbia 4.7 5
Caltech 4.7 5
UC Berkeley 4.7 5
Chicago 4.6 9
Johns Hopkins 4.6 9
Cornell 4.6 9
Penn 4.5 12
Duke 4.5 12
Northwestern 4.4 14
Brown 4.4 14
Michigan 4.4 14
Dartmouth 4.3 17
Carnegie Mellon 4.3 17
UCLA 4.3 17
Georgia Tech 4.3 17
Vanderbilt 4.2 21
Virginia 4.2 21
Washington Univ 4.1 23
Rice 4.1 23
Notre Dame 4.1 23
Emory 4.1 23
Georgetown 4.1 23
North Carolina 4.1 23
UT Austin 4.1 23
USC 4 30
UW Madison 4 30
NYU 3.9 32
UC Davis 3.9 32
Illinois 3.9 32
Washington 3.9 32
William & Mary 3.8 36
UC San Diego 3.8 36
Ohio St 3.8 36
Purdue 3.8 36
Tufts 3.7 40
Case Western 3.7 40
UC Irvine 3.7 40
Penn State 3.7 40
Florida 3.7 40
Maryland 3.7 40
Minnesota 3.7 40
Wake Forest 3.6 47
Boston College 3.6 47
Brandeis 3.6 47
Boston Univ 3.6 47
UC Santa Barbara 3.6 47
Georgia 3.6 47
Texas A&M 3.6 47
Indiana 3.6 47
Colorado 3.6 47
Arizona 3.6 47
RPI 3.5 57
Tulane 3.5 57
George Washington 3.5 57
Pitt 3.5 57
Virginia Tech 3.5 57
Iowa 3.5 57
Michigan St 3.5 57
Rochester 3.4 64
U of Miami 3.4 64
Northeastern 3.4 64
Rutgers 3.4 64
Col School of Mines 3.4 64
UMass Amherst 3.4 64
Arizona St 3.4 64
Pepperdine 3.3 71
Syracuse 3.3 71
RIT 3.3 71
Connecticut 3.3 71
Clemson 3.3 71
Auburn 3.3 71
Stony Brook 3.3 71
Iowa St 3.3 71
Oregon 3.3 71
Kansas 3.3 71
Lehigh 3.2 81
Villanova 3.2 81
SMU 3.2 81
American 3.2 81
Delaware 3.2 81
Miami Oh 3.2 81
Alabama 3.2 81
Florida St 3.2 81
NC State 3.2 81
Missouri 3.2 81
Tennessee 3.2 81
Fordham 3.1 92
Brigham Young 3.1 92
Baylor 3.1 92
Pacific 3.1 92
Drexel 3.1 92
UC Santa Cruz 3.1 92
Oklahoma 3.1 92
Nebraska 3.1 92
South Carolina 3.1 92
UC Riverside 3.1 92
Kentucky 3.1 92
George Mason 3.1 92
Utah 3.1 92
WPI 3 105
Marquette 3 105
Loyola Chicago 3 105
Howard 3 105
Binghamton 3 105
Vermont 3 105
UI Chicago 3 105
Univ at Buffalo 3 105
Colorado St 3 105
Temple 3 105
Kansas St 3 105
Clark 2.9 116
Denver 2.9 116
San Diego 2.9 116
DePaul 2.9 116
St. Louis 2.9 116
New Hampshire 2.9 116
Arkansas 2.9 116
Mississippi 2.9 116
San Diego St 2.9 116
Seton Hall 2.9 116
LSU 2.9 116
Yeshiva 2.8 127
Stevens Inst Tech 2.8 127
New School 2.8 127
Hofstra 2.8 127
TCU 2.8 127
St. John’s 2.8 127
Illinois Tech 2.8 127
Texas Tech 2.8 127
TCU 2.8 127
UAB 2.8 127
USF 2.8 127
VCU 2.8 127
UT Dallas 2.8 127
New Mexico 2.8 127
Univ at Albany 2.8 127
UMBC 2.8 127
Cincinnati 2.8 127
URI 2.8 127
Tulsa 2.7 145
Catholic 2.7 145
Clarkson 2.7 145
Michigan Tech 2.7 145
UCF 2.7 145
Georgia State 2.7 145
NJIT 2.7 145
Idaho 2.7 145
UNC Charlotte 2.7 145
UC Merced 2.7 145
Hawaii Manoa 2.7 145

Changes in Dept Rankings 2014-2018

In other posts and pages we compare the public and private university academic departmental rankings and list those along with U.S. News overall rankings for the universities. It is often the case that a university’s overall ranking is sharply at odds with its departmental rankings.

In this post we will list the changes in the aggregate academic department rankings for 61 public and private universities during the 2014–2018 time frame. In doing so we hope to give readers some idea whether a given university is trending up or down in the reputation of its academic offerings. A high aggregate ranking indicates that a student could have more options for a major or have the ability to change from one highly-ranked major to another that is also strong. Strong departments in public universities are especially important to honors students because they can take better advantage of the strong department via mentoring and smaller classes.

Academic departments are ranking by university academicians and administrators across the nation. Like any other rankings based on reputation, these are inherently subjective. On the other hand, few individuals are more keenly aware of the personnel changes in their professions or disciplines than members of the academy, whose careers often rely on their own recognized accomplishments, usually by means of publishing or patenting their work.

Our own approach is subjective in that we have chosen to rank only 15 academic disciplines, and most are ranked only at the graduate level. These are biology; business (undergrad); chemistry; computer science; earth sciences; economics; education; engineering (undergrad); English; history; mathematics; physics; political science; psychology; and sociology.

Not every university has ranked programs in all 15 disciplines. In such cases, we only count the ranked disciplines, and the average is based only on those; in other words, their is no penalty if a university does not offer, say, engineering.

In rare cases, a university did not have a ranked department in 2014 but did in 2018. In the list below, the rankings for Emory and Georgia Tech only include departments that were ranked in both years. For example, the history department at Georgia Tech broke into the rankings in 2018 at number 114; this was good in a sense, but the ranking, not present in 2014, had a negative impact.

There are four other special cases. We did not begin tracking Boston College and the University of Rochester until recently, so we do not have a 2014 aggregate ranking for their departments. But because their current aggregate ranking is among the top 60, we included them in the 2018 column. NYU, Carnegie Mellon, and Boston University have been tracked since 2016, so their rankings cover only a two-year period.

Although many universities below had meaningful changes in the aggregate departmental rankings (+2.0/-2.0) during the period, the mean change was only .414. Example: University A had an aggregate departmental ranking of 24.62 in 2018 (very high) but increased only .22 over the 2014 ranking of 24.40.

But University B had an aggregate ranking of 53.65 in 2014 but improved to 49.86 in 2018, a significant change.

The universities below are listed in order of their 2018 aggregate department ranking. Those with an improvement of 2.0 or greater are in bold; those with a decline of 2.0 or greater are in italics.

University 2013-14 2018-19 Chg + or –
Stanford 2.71 1.93 0.78
MIT 4.58 2.73 1.85
UC Berkeley 3.13 3.20 -0.07
Caltech 5.63 4.71 0.92
Princeton 5.77 5.38 0.39
Harvard 5.57 5.71 -0.14
Michigan 9.47 9.40 0.07
Columbia 10.85 10.23 0.62
UCLA 12.86 10.86 2.00
Yale 12.00 10.92 1.08
Chicago 11.92 11.67 0.25
Wisconsin 12.73 12.93 -0.20
Cornell 11.64 13.79 -2.15
UT-Austin 14.27 14.47 -0.20
Penn 18.53 16.73 1.80
Northwestern 19.00 17.86 1.14
Illinois 19.33 20.07 -0.74
Duke 22.38 20.23 2.15
Johns Hopkins 19.36 21.93 -2.57
Washington 21.67 22.20 -0.53
North Carolina 25.80 23.79 2.01
Minnesota 23.07 24.20 -1.13
NYU* 27.13 25.00 2.13
Georgia Tech 32.78 25.40 7.38
UCSD 23.29 25.93 -2.64
Ohio State 25.47 26.40 -0.93
Penn State 25.93 27.27 -1.34
Virginia 32.47 27.40 5.07
Brown 27.08 27.62 -0.54
Carnegie Mellon* 26.55 27.73 -1.18
UC Davis 30.57 28.14 2.43
Maryland 27.40 28.80 -1.40
Indiana 29.07 29.93 -0.86
Rice 33.83 31.92 1.91
WUSTL 29.08 32.29 -3.21
UC Irvine 34.31 32.53 1.78
Colorado 37.00 33.20 3.80
UCSB 35.64 35.21 0.43
USC 37.73 35.27 2.46
Vanderbilt 33.29 35.57 -2.28
Emory 33.00 38.86 -5.86
Purdue 40.33 40.27 0.06
Texas A&M 43.80 41.60 2.20
Michigan State 43.20 42.13 1.07
Arizona 38.20 43.00 -4.80
Rutgers New Bruns 43.87 43.87 0.00
Pitt 46.00 45.40 0.60
Notre Dame 52.23 45.43 6.80
Arizona State 47.27 45.67 1.60
Stony Brook SUNY 47.08 46.46 0.62
Massachusetts 52.14 48.67 3.47
Florida 44.00 48.57 -4.57
Boston University* 50.20 48.67 1.53
Boston College no data 50.27
Iowa 46.93 50.27 -3.34
Oregon 49.36 51.21 -1.85
Dartmouth 48.86 51.38 -2.52
Rochester no data 52.00
Virginia Tech 57.58 52.31 5.27
Georgetown 59.33 53.75 5.58
Illinois Chicago 58.07 59.80 -1.73

Best Undergrad Business Programs, by Specialty, Public and Private

Editor’s note: Updated September 26, 2019. This list is from US News (2019) and we post it here for convenience and for comparison with the list of best overall business programs here.


1. UT Austin
2. Illinois, Brigham Young
4. Michigan
5. Penn
6. Indiana
7. Notre Dame, USC
9. NYU
10. Ohio State
11. Florida
12. Texas A&M
13. Georgia
14. UC Berkeley
15. Creighton
16. UNC-Chapel Hill
17. St. Joseph’s
18. Loyola Marymount
19. Michigan State, Penn State, Washington, Wake Forest
23. Arizona State, Gonzaga, Seattle, Virginia, UW Madison
28. Bentley, Miami Oh, Saint Louis
31. Boston College, MIT


1. Boston College
2. MIT
3. Indiana
4. UC Berkeley, Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill
7. Penn
8. UT Austin
9. USC
10. Arizona
11. Loyola Marymount, Xavier
13. Boston College, Houston
15. Baylor, Syracuse, Utah
18. Brigham Young, Saint Louis
20. Carnegie Mellon, Florida, Maryland
23. Arizona State, Santa Clara, NYU, San Francisco
27. Fordham
28. Georgetown, Northeastern
30. Georgia Tech


1. Penn
2. NYU
3. MIT
4. Michigan
5. UT Austin
6. UC Berkeley
7. Indiana
8. Carnegie Mellon
9. Boston College
10. Virginia
11. UNC-Chapel Hill
12. Ohio State
13. Cornell, Georgetown
15. Fordham, Notre Dame
17. Creighton
20. Loyola Chicago, Seattle, St.Joseph’s, Xavier
24. Loyola Maryland, Marquette, UW Madison
27. Arizona State, Fairfield
29. Babson, Emory
31. Florida, Illinois, Washington


1. Georgia
2. UW Madison
3. Georgia State
4. Temple
5. Florida State, Penn
7. Penn State, UT Austin
9. Illinois State
10. Penn State, Illinois
12. St. John’s

International Business

1. South Carolina
2. NYU
3. Georgetown
4. UC Berkeley
5. Penn
6. Florida International, George Washington
8. Fordham, Northeastern, Michigan
11. Saint Louis
12. USC
13. San Diego State
14. American
15. Arizona State, Temple, Washington State
18. Hawaii Manoa
19. UT Austin
20. Brigham Young, Missouri St. Louis
22. Indiana, Miami Fl, Virginia
25. Bryant, UNC-Chapel Hill, Oklahoma
28. Michigan State


1. Michigan
2. Penn
3. UC Berkeley
4. UNC Chapel Hill
5. Virginia
6. Indiana, MIT, NYU
9. UT Austin
10. Arizona State
11. Babson, USC
13. Texas A&M
14. Michigan State
15. Maryland
16. Illinois
17. Ohio State
18. Emory, Notre Dame
20. Cornell, Penn State, Detroit Mercy
23. Minnesota
24. Rockhurst, Washington
26. Babson, Georgetown
28. Carnegie Mellon
30. UW Madison

Management Information Systems

1. MIT
2. Carnegie Mellon
3. Arizona
4. UT Austin
5. Minnesota
6. Georgia Tech, Indiana
8. Maryland
9. Georgia State
10. NYU
11. Arizona State
12. Penn
13. Temple
14. Michigan
15. UT Dallas
16. Loyola Chicago, Georgia
18. LeMoyne, Santa Clara
20. Michigan State, St. Joseph’s, UNC-Chapel Hill
23. Creighton, Fairfield
25. Clemson, Ohio State, Arkansas
28. Cornell, Purdue, Illinois, Xavier Oh


1. Michigan
2. Penn
3. NYU
4. UT Austin
5. UNC-Chapel Hill
6. UC Berkeley
7. Indiana
8. Virginia
9. UW Madison
10. St. Joseph’s
11. USC
12. Notre Dame
13. Loyola Marymount
14. Florida
15. Fordham
16. Penn State
17. Arizona State, Ohio State, Illinois
20. Cornell, Fairfield
22. MIT
23. Emory, Maryland
25. Texas A&M, Washington
27. Boston College, San Francisco
29. Babson, LeMoyne, Minnesota

Production/Operation Management

1. MIT
2. Penn
3. Carnegie Mellon
4. Michigan
5. Purdue
6. UC Berkeley, North Carolina Chapel Hill
8. Michigan State
9. UT Austin
10. Ohio State
11. Georgia Tech
12. Penn State
13. Indiana
14. NYU
15. Illinois, Santa Clara, Minnesota, WUSTL

Quantitative Analysis

1. MIT
2. Carnegie Mellon
3. Penn
4. UC Berkeley
5. NYU
6. Georgia Tech, Purdue, Michigan
9. Rockhurst, UT Austin
11. Cornell
12. Ohio State
13. Loyola Chicago, North Carolina Chapel Hill

Real Estate

1. Penn
2. UC Berkeley
3. UW Madison
4. NYU
5. Georgia
6. UT Austin
7. USC
8. Florida
9. Marquette
10. Cornell
11. Florida State
12. North Carolina Chapel Hill
13. Georgia State, Penn State
15. Michigan

Supply Chain Management/Logistics

1. Michigan State
2. MIT
3. Tennessee
4. Arizona State, Penn State
6. Ohio State
7. Michigan
8. Carnegie Mellon
9. UT Austin
10. Purdue
11. Penn
12. Maryland
13. Georgia Tech
14. Marquette
15. Arkansas, UC Berkeley
17. Clemson, Illinois
19. Iowa State, UW Madison

Best Undergrad Engineering Programs, by Specialty, Public and Private

Editor’s note:  Update September 26, 2018. This listing is from the most recent U.S. News rankings. We list them here on one page for convenience and for easy comparison with the overall engineering rankings here


1. MIT
2. Georgia Tech
3. Caltech
4. Michigan
5. Purdue
6. Stanford
7. Illinois
8. UT Austin
9. Texas A&M, Colorado
11. Embry-Riddle
12. Maryland
13. Virginia Tech
14. Princeton
15. Ohio State
16. Penn State, UCLA
18. UC Berkeley, Washington


1. Purdue
2. Texas A&M
3. Iowa State
4. UC Davis
5. Cornell, Illinois
7. Michigan State, Ohio State
9. Virginia Tech
10. NC State, Penn State
12. Florida


1. Johns Hopkins
2. MIT
3. Georgia Tech
4. Duke
5. Stanford
6. UC San Diego
7. UC Berkeley
8. Rice
9. Michigan
10. Penn
11. Washington
12. Boston University, Northwestern
14. Case Western, UT Austin
16. Columbia, Cornell
18. Pitt, WUSTL
18. Vanderbilt, WUSTL
20. Caltech, Harvard
22. Purdue, UCLA
24. Virginia


1. MIT
2. Georgia Tech
3. UC Berkeley
4. UT Austin
5. Caltech
6. Stanford
7. Michigan
8. Minnesota
9. Delaware, UW Madison
11. Princeton
12. Illinois
13. Cornell
14. Carnegie Mellon, Purdue
16. Northwestern
17. UC Santa Barbara
18. NC State
19. Penn State, Penn


1. UC Berkeley
2. Georgia Tech
3. Illinois
4. UT Austin
5. Purdue
6. Michigan
7. MIT, Stanford
9. Virginia Tech
10. Cornell, Texas A&M
12. Carnegie Mellon
13. UC Davis
14. Penn State
15. UW Madison
16. Caltech
17. Columbia, Lehigh
19. NC State
20. Northwestern, UCLA, Florida, Minnesota


1. Carnegie Mellon
2. MIT
3. Stanford
4. UC Berkeley
5. Georgia Tech
6. Michigan
7. Illinois
8. Cornell
9. UT Austin
10. Purdue, Washington
12. Princeton
13. UCLA
14. UC San Diego
15. UW Madison
16. Columbia, Ohio State
18. Texas A&M
19. Virginia Tech
20. Arizona State, Duke, Harvard
23. Penn State, Rice, Maryland, Penn


1. MIT
2. UC Berkeley
3. Stanford
4. Georgia Tech
5. Illinois
6. Caltech
7. Michigan
8. Cornell
9. Carnegie Mellon
10. Purdue, UT Austin
12. Princeton, UCLA
14. UC San Diego
15. UW Madison
16. Columbia, Virginia Tech
18. Rice
19. UC Santa Barbara
20. Texas A&M


1. Stanford
2. UC Berkeley
3. Illinois
4. Georgia Tech
5. UT Austin
6. MIT
7. Carnegie Mellon, Michigan
9. Cornell, Virginia Tech
11. Johns Hopkins
12. Purdue, Colorado
14. Duke
15. Princeton
16. UC Davis
17. Penn State, UW Madison
19. Caltech
20. Minnesota, Washington

Industrial, Manufacturing

1. Georgia Tech
2. Michigan
3. Purdue
4. UC Berkeley
5. Stanford
6. Virginia Tech
7. Northwestern
8. Cornell
9. Penn State, UW Madison
11. Texas A&M
12. NC State
13. Columbia
14. Ohio State, Illinois
16. USC


1. MIT
2. Michigan
3. Georgia Tech
4. Stanford
5. Northwestern, Illinois
7. UC Berkeley
8. Cornell, Caltech
10. UC Santa Barbara
11. Carnegie Mellon, Penn State
13. Purdue
14. Ohio State
15. UW Madison
16. Penn
17. Florida
18. Rice
19. NC State
20. Harvard, UT Austin
22. Minnesota


1. MIT
2. Georgia Tech
3. Stanford
4. UC Berkeley
5. Michigan
6. Caltech
7. Illinois
8. Purdue
9. Cornell
10. Carnegie Mellon
11. UT Austin
12. Northwestern
13. Princeton, Texas A&M
15. Virginia Tech
16. UCLA
17. Columbia, Penn State
19. UW Madison
20. Ohio State
21. Johns Hopkins
22. Penn
23. Duke, Rice
25. Brown, UC San Diego, Maryland


1. UT Austin
2. Texas A&M
3. Penn State