U.S. News & World Report released the 30th edition of its flagship Best Colleges rankings. For the second year in a row, Princeton University claims sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Best National Universities category. Williams College tops the list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, making it No. 1 for 12 years in a row. University of California—Berkeley holds onto its spot as the Top Public School among National Universities.
The 2015 edition of Best Colleges includes data on nearly 1,800 schools nationwide to help parents and students evaluate their options. Eligible schools are ranked on up to 16 measures of academic excellence. Outcome-related measures, such as graduation and retention rates, account for 30 percent of the rankings and are the most heavily weighted factors in the methodology.
New this year, U.S. News has published campus crime and security information reported by schools to the U.S. Department of Education to make it more accessible to parents and students. These Clery Act data – which most colleges are mandated to report annually and which include criminal offenses on campus and in off-campus properties used by students – are not factored into the rankings, but are available on each school’s profile page.
To help families better understand the cost of a college degree, the 2015 edition of Best Colleges includes a number of paying for college resources and tools. The Best Value Schools rankings weigh academic excellence and affordability. Harvard University and Amherst College claim the top spots again this year. U.S. News also compiled a list of schools whose students graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads.
For the first time, each school’s profile page features three-year federal loan default rates, as published by the U.S. Department of Education, used as a guide for how a school’s recent graduates have been able to handle their loan payments. For families expecting tuition bills in the future, the new U.S. News 529 Finder offers the ability to compare research and select the best tax-advantaged college savings plans.
“How to plan and pay for college is a challenge parents around the country face each year,” said Anita Narayan, education editor. “Our paying for college resources and tips are designed to help families more easily navigate this complex process, from saving for college and understanding financial aid options to paying off student loans.”
The 2015 edition of Best Colleges also features Web-exclusive rankings, including lists on Campus Ethnic Diversity, Economic Diversityat top-ranked schools and the Best Colleges for Veterans. For students seeking a specific career path, there are updated rankings of the Best Undergraduate Business Programs and Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.
“Our goal for the past 30 years has been to provide families with the most comprehensive information on colleges to help them make one of life’s most important – and often most costly – decisions,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer.
U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges Rankings
|Best National Universities||Best National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|1. Princeton University (NJ)||1. Williams College (MA)|
|2. Harvard University (MA)||2. Amherst College (MA)|
|3. Yale University (CT)||3. Swarthmore College (PA)|
|4. Columbia University (NY)||4. Wellesley College (MA)|
|4. Stanford University (CA)||5. Bowdoin College (ME)|
|4. University of Chicago (IL)||5. Pomona College (CA)|
|7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology||7. Middlebury College (VT)|
|8. Duke University (NC)||8. Carleton College (MN)|
|8. University of Pennsylvania||8. Claremont McKenna College (CA)|
|10. California Institute of Technology||8. Haverford College (PA)|
Best Public Schools
|National Universities||Liberal Arts Colleges|
|1. University of California–Berkeley||1. United States Naval Academy (MD)|
|2. University of California–Los Angeles||2. United States Military Academy (NY)|
|3. University of Virginia||3. United States Air Force Academy (CO)|
|4. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor||4. Virginia Military Institute|
|5. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill||5. New College of Florida|