The University of St. Thomas’ transformation from a small liberal arts school into a comprehensive urban university is nothing new in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and certain pockets of the Upper Midwest.

Based on the latest news from U.S. News & World Report, however, it appears the rest of the nation is also starting to take notice.

In the annual U.S. News Best Colleges report, St. Thomas ranked among the top 20 Catholic universities in the country and within the top third of all national universities. The university’s overall rank was No. 133 (in a 10-way tie) out of 389 national institutions. Last year, St. Thomas was ranked No. 139. Additionally, St. Thomas again received high marks for its veterans programs, as well as for the School of Engineering and Opus College of Business.

“St. Thomas will always place a greater importance on student outcomes than on rankings, but it is still encouraging to see efforts to strengthen our reputation for academic excellence are getting noticed,” said St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan.

Among national Catholic universities, St. Thomas is in a three-way tie for No. 17 with Seton Hall University and the University of Dayton, moving ahead of Catholic University of America and Duquesne University. St. Thomas is also tied with Dayton in the overall ranking, marking the first time it has tied in the rankings with a national peer benchmark university.

One driving factor in the steady rise is that leaders from other peer schools and colleges are more aware today of St. Thomas and its offerings. U.S. News & World Report surveys presidents, provosts and admissions deans who rank universities on a 1-5 scale – which accounts for 20% of an institution’s overall ranking. This year, St. Thomas saw marked improvement for the third straight year with a 2.6 average peer reputation score, up from 2.4 in 2018.

“We talk a lot about our mission to serve the common good at St. Thomas, but to see our efforts increasingly recognized by our peers validates we’re doing more than talking – we’re taking real actions,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Richard Plumb.

Other highlights included:

  • St. Thomas’ ranking among Best Colleges for Veterans improved to No. 93, marking the university’s second year ranked in the top 100. This ranking recognizes schools that participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty service members pay for their degrees.
  • The School of Engineering’s ranking (which is 100% determined by peer reputation surveys) improved to No. 33 from No. 38 among engineering schools where doctoral degrees are not offered. The school ranked in the top 50 for the seventh straight year.
  • Opus continued its string of being ranked nationally every year since it achieved AACSB accreditation status in 2010. The school ranked in the 35th percentile nationally; like Engineering, Opus’ ranking is also determined by peer reputation survey.

For the rankings, U.S. News & World Report segments institutions into three categories: national universities, regional universities and national liberal arts schools. Institutions are compared only against others within their categories. St. Thomas was included in the national category, which was designated for schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs. Institutions are scored on a range of factors, including graduation and retention rates, class size, student-faculty ratio, alumni giving rates, and others.

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