Aug. 18 Update: UST moves up in U.S. News rankings.

The University of St. Thomas has moved up in the annual rankings published by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

St. Thomas ranks No. 124 in the National Universities category of the 2011 “America’s Best Colleges” survey, an improvement from No. 137 a year ago.

“It’s clear others are noticing that we are working hard to provide the best educational experiences for our students,” said Father Dennis Dease, president. “Rankings such as these have serious limitations, however, and use measures that are surrogates for quality. Our decisions are not driven by rankings but by our sense of responsibility to provide students with those exceptional educational experiences consistent with their investment in St. Thomas.”

U.S. News announced the rankings on Tuesday. They will be available Monday (Aug. 24) in the newsstand book, America’s Best Colleges, and on Aug. 31 in the magazine’s September issue.

St. Thomas also appears in one other U.S. News list: it is considered an “A-Plus School for B Students,” along with 84 other schools in the National Universities category. The magazine said it sought to identify schools “where non-superstars have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving,” and its methodology in determining “A-Plus Schools” was that they had to admit a “meaningful” proportion of non-“A” students, as indicated by their fall 2009 admissions data.

This is the 10th year that U.S. News has classified St. Thomas in the National Universities category. St. Thomas formerly was ranked as a Midwest “regional” university but was reclassified in 2001 because of the number of conferred doctorates.

The magazine’s published findings do not explain why St. Thomas jumped 13 places in the rankings, which are based on seven indicators: undergraduate academic reputation, retention rates, graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

There are 262 American universities (164 public and 98 private) in the National Universities category. St. Thomas tied for No. 124 with Clarkson (New York), Colorado State, Louisiana State and Ohio. Other Minnesota schools in the category are the University of Minnesota, tied for No. 64, and St. Mary’s University (Winona), tied for No. 183.

All other Minnesota colleges, including Catholic universities such as St. Catherine and St. John’s, are in one of three other institutional categories – National Liberal Arts Colleges, which emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the arts and sciences; Regional Universities, which provide a full range of undergraduate and master's programs but few if any doctoral programs; and Regional Colleges, which focus on undergraduate education and award less than half of their degrees in the liberal arts.