UConn Rises to 18th Among U.S. Public Universities

Members of the Class of 2021 pose on the Great Lawn for their class photo on Aug. 26, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
The No. 18 ranking is UConn's highest yet. The University also moved up to No. 56 among all public and private universities, which places it among the top 5 percent of institutions nationwide. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

UConn has achieved its highest-yet ranking among the nation’s top public universities, reaching No. 18 on this year’s U.S. News & World Report list and marking its seventh consecutive year in the Top 25.

The No. 18 ranking, released Tuesday, places UConn ahead of many other noted schools and reflects the University’s strides in retention and graduation rates, reputation among peer institutions and guidance counselors, and other factors measured by the rankings.

UConn has been ascending steadily in the rankings since 2000, when it was No. 38 among public universities. It moved into the mid-20s over the following years, then remained between Nos. 19 and 21 for the past six years before this year’s best-yet No. 18 showing.

“We are thrilled and incredibly proud that UConn has reached our highest-ever place in the U.S. News ranking of the nation’s best public colleges and universities,” UConn President Susan Herbst said. “This is a reflection of our core academic strength and UConn’s exceptional faculty, staff, students, and leaders – and state investment over many years.

“This was accomplished despite ongoing cuts to our appropriation over several years,” she continued. “It shows that if the state makes the necessary investments in UConn’s future, we clearly have the potential to become a top 10 institution. We are hopeful that this is the path the state chooses.”

UConn’s No. 18 ranking reflects a tie for that position with University of Texas-Austin, University of Washington and Purdue.

“I want to thank and congratulate President Herbst and her entire team, who have worked so hard to bring this about over many years,” said UConn Board Chair Lawrence McHugh. “It is always a struggle to rise in this highly competitive ranking. The fact that it happened during difficult budget times makes it all the more impressive. Without a doubt, UConn has the potential to rise even higher.”

One of UConn’s particular strengths in this year’s U.S. News rankings is its success in retaining students, both those who return after their freshman year and those who stay and earn their UConn degree in four to six years.

The average student retention rate at UConn was 93 percent in the years that the rankings consider between fall 2012 and fall 2015, and University analyses show that UConn Storrs ranks 15 out of 58 public research universities in average retention rates between freshman and sophomore years.

U.S. News also tries to assess through its rankings whether a college is enhancing students’ achievement with strong academic programs and services. It does that by predicting how many will graduate in six years or less while controlling for spending per student, admissions selectivity, and other factors that might influence the rate.

In that category, UConn’s success far outpaced expectations: The rankings had predicted 74 percent of those entering in fall 2010 would earn their degrees in or before 2016, but the actual number was 82 percent.

In fact, UConn students’ average time to graduation is 4.2 years, the third-fastest among 58 public research universities.

UConn also made strides in another important area in this year’s U.S. News rankings: It now is No. 24 nationwide among the Best Colleges for Veterans, up from No. 36 last year.

UConn ties for that No. 24 spot in the category with the same peers with which it shares the overall No. 18 position, along with George Washington University.

Among all public and private universities in the rankings, UConn’s position at No. 56 was a move upward from last year’s No. 60 spot, and places the University among the top 5 percent of all institutions nationwide.

The new U.S. News rankings are among several national accolades that UConn has received in recent months.

In fact, Money magazine’s 2017 ranking of best colleges lists UConn as the No. 22 for best value among public universities nationwide and No. 37 among all public and private institutions, based on average financial aid received and graduates’ early career earnings.

UConn’s ascent also has been noticed by prospective students, including the 36,000-plus who competed for spots in this year’s freshman class.

The academic strength of UConn’s freshman classes has been one of several factors in the University’s rise in the U.S. News standings in recent years. The reduction in class sizes, reputation among guidance counselors, percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, and other factors also play a role.

While UConn officials say they are very happy with the U.S. News ranking, they emphasize the importance of other factors that help define a high-quality institution. These include ensuring affordability and career-relevant educational offerings for students; prioritizing research and innovation; fostering statewide economic development; promoting environmentally conscious academics and practices; and many other factors.

UConn was one of 1,389 national public and private universities ranked as part of this year’s U.S. News survey, which can be found at: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings