Princeton University maintained its top spot as the highest-ranked university in the country according to the annual U.S. News & World Report released on Monday.
In its latest report, the global authority in education rankings assessed 1,466 U.S. universities on 17 measures of academic quality, including graduation rates, student–faculty ratio, social mobility, and the average federal loan debt of graduates, as well as schools’ academic reputation.
It then calculated its rankings based on six categories that are each weighted differently: student outcomes (40 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion from top academics such as presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (7 percent), and alumni giving, or the average percentage of living alumni with bachelor’s degrees who gave to their school during 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 (3 percent).
This year’s top five universities are all prestigious schools with an acceptance rate between 5 and 7 percent. Four of the top five are also members of the Ivy League.
According to the report, Princeton University (New Jersey) is still number one in the country for the 11th consecutive year, thanks in part to its student–faculty ratio of 4:1, and an average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 94 percent.
Following closely behind Princeton University are three universities: Columbia University (New York), Harvard University (Massachusetts), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Meanwhile, Yale University ranked at number five on the list, with a student-faculty ratio of 4:1, and average freshman retention rate of 90 percent.
U.S. News & World surveyed schools in the spring and summer of 2021 but made a slight change to the way it assesses SAT/ACT scores due to the disruption to higher education amid the ongoing pandemic.
If the combined percentage of the fall 2020 entering class submitting test scores was less than 50 percent of all new entrants, its combined SAT/ACT percentile distribution value used in the rankings was discounted by 15 percent. Previously, the threshold was 75 percent of new entrants.
U.S. News & World said this change was made to “reflect the growth of test-optional policies through the 2019 calendar year and the fact that the coronavirus impacted the fall 2020 admission process at many schools.”
“Students and faculty continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s through remote learning, mask-wearing, or vaccine requirements,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “As communities work through these challenges, U.S. News is committed to providing information on the academic quality of institutions across the country, so prospective students and their families can make informed decisions throughout their college search.”