U.S. News & World Report ranks St. Thomas in annual 'America's Best Colleges' survey

U.S. News & World Report ranks St. Thomas in annual 'America's Best Colleges' survey

U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of St. Thomas in the third tier of its National Universities category in the magazine’s 2006 “America ’s Best Colleges” survey.

U.S. News announced the rankings on Friday, Aug. 19. They are available on its Web site at www.usnews.com; they also will be available in the publication’s newsstand book, America ’s Best Colleges, and in the Aug. 29 issue of U.S. News and World Report. Both go on sale Aug. 22.

Last year St. Thomas was tied for 120th in the National Universities category. This year UST returned to the third tier, with schools ranked 125th to 180th and not ranked numerically.  Other third-tier Catholic universities included: DePaul in Illinois, Duquesne in Pennsylvania, Seton Hall in New Jersey and St. John’s in New York .

There are 248 American universities, 162 public and 86 private, in the National Universities category. These schools offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees.

This is the fifth year that U.S. News has classified St. Thomas in the National Universities category. Prior to 2001, St. Thomas was ranked among Midwest regional universities. The reclassification occurred because of the number of doctorates St. Thomas confers.

U.S. News’ ranking system relies on selected indicators of academic quality: peer assessment, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. Below are St. Thomas data of interest in these categories:

  • Peer assessment (25 percent of overall score): St. Thomas’ score was 2.4 (on a 1-5 scale, with 5 highest), a drop from 2.5 the last two years.
  • Retention (20 percent): This indicator includes six-year graduation rate and freshman retention rate. St. Thomas’ retention rate, 85 percent, was down from 86 percent the two previous years. UST’s graduation rate, 71 percent, was down from 76 percent last year but up from 70 percent two years ago.
  • Graduation rate performance (5 percent). This indicator, tied to the previous one, shows the effect of programs and policies on the graduation rate of students after controlling for spending and student aptitude. The difference is measured between a school's six-year graduation rate for the class that entered in 1998 and the predicted rate for the class. St. Thomas’ predicted rate for 2004 was 62 percent and its actual was 71 percent, meaning it "overperformed." St. Thomas had similar "overperformance" scores the last two years.
  • Faculty resources (20 percent). Six factors from 2004-05 are used for this indicator, including class size, faculty salary, the proportion of professors with the highest degree in their fields, student-faculty ratio, and the percentage of faculty who are full time. The magazine didn’t provide statistics for all of the factors, so it is not possible at this time to give an actual comparison for this indicator; however, the university’s class-size numbers improved and its full-time faculty percentages dropped by just one percentage point.
  • Student selectivity (15 percent). Test-score averages for entering students remained the same. St. Thomas enrolled fewer freshmen who finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class (22 percent in 2004 vs. 28 percent in 2003). UST’s acceptance rate, 81 percent, was lower than the last two years (87 percent each).
  • Financial resources (10 percent). This indicator measured the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in 2002-03 and 2003-04. Comparative data were not provided or ranked in the magazine.
  • Alumni giving (5 percent). St. Thomas’ giving rate – the average percentage of alumni who gave to the university during 2002-03 and 2003-04 – increased one percentage point to 14 percent. It was 13 percent a year ago (for 2001-02 and 2002-03).

In the National Universities category, Harvard and Princeton again tied for the No. 1 ranking. The only other Minnesota school (in addition to St. Thomas ) in this category is the University of Minnesota , which tied for No. 74. Numerically ranked Catholic universities in this category were Notre Dame (t-18), Georgetown (t-23), Boston College (t-40), Fordham (t-60), St. Louis (t-78), Marquette (t-85), Dayton and San Diego (t-104), Loyola of Chicago and San Francisco (t-115), and Catholic U (t-120).

U.S. News has three other institutional categories:

  • Liberal Arts Colleges: These 215 liberal arts colleges emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the liberal arts. Following No. 1 Williams were Minnesota 's Carleton (5), Macalester (t-25), St. Olaf (t-55), St. John's (t-69), Gustavus (t-73), St. Benedict (t-88), and Concordia-Moorhead and U of M-Morris (both third tier).
  • Universities-Master's: These 572 universities are ranked in four regions and provide a full range of undergraduate and master's programs but few, if any, doctoral programs. In the Midwest, Creighton is No. 1, and Minnesota schools are Hamline (9), Bethel (13), St. Catherine (t-17), St. Scholastica (t-22), Augsburg (t-26), St. Mary's (t-37), U of M-Duluth (t-44) and Winona State (t-64). Bemidji, Mankato, Moorhead and St. Cloud, all state universities, are in the third tier and Metro State is in the fourth.
  • Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor's: These 324 colleges are ranked in four regions with a focus on undergraduate education and a range of degree programs in the liberal arts and professional fields. Ranked first in the Midwest was St. Mary's ( Ind. ), followed by Minnesota's Northwestern (32) and Concordia-St. Paul (47). Crown, Southwest State and U of M-Crookston were in the third tier.