U.S. News & World Report ranks UST in 'America's Best Colleges' survey

U.S. News & World Report ranks UST in ‘America’s Best Colleges’ survey

U.S. News & World Report again has ranked the University of St. Thomas in the third tier of its National Universities category in the magazine’s 2007 “America’s Best Colleges” survey.

U.S. News announced the rankings on Friday, Aug. 18. 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. 28 issue of U.S. News & World Report. Both go on sale Aug. 21.

Last year St. Thomas also was listed in the third tier of the National Universities category, with schools ranked 125th to 180th and not ranked numerically. This year the third tier includes schools ranked 127th through 182nd. Other third-tier Catholic universities in this category include: 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 sixth 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 that 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 score): St. Thomas’ score was 2.5 (on a 1-5 scale, with 5 highest), an improvement over last year’s score of 2.4.
  • Retention (20 percent): This indicator includes six-year graduation rate and freshman retention rate. St. Thomas’ retention rate, 87 percent, is up from last year’s 85 percent. UST’s graduation rate, 74 percent, is up from last year’s 71 percent but still down from 76 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 1999 and the predicted rate for the class. St. Thomas’ predicted rate for 2005 was 67 percent and its actual was 74 percent, meaning it “overperformed.” St. Thomas had similar “overperformance” scores the last three years.
  • Faculty resources (20 percent): Six factors from 2005-06 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. Of the numbers presented so far, the percentage of classes under 20 students dropped from a year ago, and our full-time faculty percentage dropped by one point.
  • Student selectivity (15 percent): Test-score averages for entering students remained about the same. St. Thomas enrolled more freshmen who finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class (23 percent in 2005 vs. 22 percent in 2004). UST’s acceptance rate, 91 percent, was higher than last year’s (81 percent).
  • Financial resources (10 percent): This indicator measured the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in 2003-04 and 2004-05. 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 2003-04 and 2004-05 – increased two percentage points to 16 percent. It was 14 percent a year ago (for 2002-03 and 2003-04) and 13 percent two years ago.

In the National Universities category, Harvard and Princeton broke their usual tie for the top spot. Princeton is No. 1, followed by Harvard, 2, and Yale, 3. The only other Minnesota school (in addition to St. Thomas ) in this category is the University of Minnesota, which tied for No. 67. Numerically ranked Catholic universities in this category were Notre Dame (20), Georgetown (23), Boston College (34), Fordham (t-70), St. Louis (tied for 77th), Marquette (t-81), Dayton and San Diego (t-105), Loyola of Chicago and San Francisco (t-112), 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 (6), Macalester (t-24), St. Olaf (t-55), St. John's (t-69), Gustavus (t-79), St. Benedict (t-95), and Concordia-Moorhead and U of M-Morris (both third tier).
  • Universities-Master's: These 557 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 still No. 1, and Minnesota schools are Hamline (t-9), St. Catherine (13), Bethel (t-14), St. Scholastica (21), Augsburg (t-23), St. Mary's (t-30), U of M-Duluth (t-40) and Winona State (t-62). 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 320 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. Tied for first in the Midwest were St. Mary's (Ind.) and Calvin College (Mich.), followed by Minnesota's Northwestern (t-25) and Concordia-St. Paul (t-46). Crown, Southwest State and U of M-Crookston were in the third tier.