St. Thomas has maintained a stable position in the “Best Colleges” rankings published by U.S. News & World Report.
The university ranks No. 115 among 280 schools in the National Universities category, compared with No. 113 last year and No. 112 in 2013. St. Thomas previously was ranked No. 113 in 2012, No. 115 in 2011, No. 124 in 2010 and No. 137 in 2009.
The undergraduate engineering program ranks No. 46 among 200 schools that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees but not doctorates – a drop from No. 34 last year and higher than No. 81 in 2013 and No. 69 in 2012. The survey was based solely on peer assessment – deans and senior faculty ranking other programs – and only schools with accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology were eligible.
The Opus College of Business undergraduate program ranks No. 156 among more than 400 programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The survey also was based solely on peer assessment. St. Thomas ranked No. 155 last year.
In the National Universities category, St. Thomas ranked No. 6 for highest average debt, at $37,131 for the 65 percent of 2014 graduates with loans. Four other Minnesota Private College Council institutions (St. Scholastica, St. Catherine, St. Benedict and St. John’s), which are in different survey categories, have slightly higher average per-borrower debt than St. Thomas.
(The debt numbers can be misleading. If you don’t count the $60,000 or more in loans taken out by 11 percent of graduates, the remaining 89 percent have an average loan of $27,761, according to a recent St. Thomas study. The median student debt of all 2014 graduates was $28,000.)
U.S. News announced the rankings today (Wednesday). They are published on the magazine’s website and in the 2016 print edition of the “Best Colleges” guidebook, which will be available later this month in bookstores.
The institutional rankings are based on seven measures: assessment by peers and high school admissions counselors (22.5 percent of overall score), graduation and retention rates (22.5 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), student selectivity (12.5 percent), financial resources (10 percent), graduation rate performance (7.5 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).
“National Universities” are defined as offering a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees. Princeton remains in the top spot, and the University of Minnesota is No. 69. Among Catholic universities in this category, Notre Dame (No. 18), Georgetown (21), Boston College (30), Fordham (66), Marquette (86), San Diego (89), St. Louis (96), Chicago Loyola (99), and Dayton and San Francisco (both 108) rank higher than St. Thomas. Duquesne also is at No. 115. Catholic universities ranked lower than St. Thomas include Catholic, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s of New York and St. Mary’s of Winona.
All other Minnesota colleges are ranked in three other institutional categories: 245 National Liberal Arts Colleges, which emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the arts and sciences; 618 Regional Universities, which provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs but few, if any, doctoral programs; and 363 Regional Colleges, which focus on undergraduate education but grant less than half of their degrees in the arts and sciences.