Princeton Takes Top Spot In Ranking of National Universities

220px-Princeton_shield.svgThe rankings from the good people at U.S. News and World Report are out and Princeton has grabbed the top spot among national universities. The top five universities (six this year due to a tie) are Princeton (1), Harvard (2), Yale (3), Columbia (4), and University of Chicago (5) and Stanford (5). I am happy to see my alma mater UChicago at 5th place, though I would quibble with the precise line up.  The most useful aspect of these rankings is to see the spread on tuition costs and other objective criteria.

Notably, California Institute of Technology makes the top ten in a tie with Dartmouth. Look at its enrollment numbers, however. CIT is reporting less than a 1000, making it a university with the class sizes of a college. Remarkable.

Here is the top 10:

1.Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Tuition and fees: $40,170 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 5,336

2. Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
Tuition and fees: $42,292 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 6,658

3. Yale University
New Haven, CT
Tuition and fees: $44,000 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 5,405

4. Columbia University
New York, NY
Tuition and fees: $49,138 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 6,068

5. Stanford University
Stanford, CA
Tuition and fees: $43,245 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 7,063

5. University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
Tuition and fees: $46,386 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 5,590

7.Duke University
Durham, NC
Tuition and fees: $45,476 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 6,655

7.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA
Tuition and fees: $43,498 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 4,503

7.University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Tuition and fees: $45,890 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 9,682

10. California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
Tuition and fees: $41,538 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 997

10. Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH
Tuition and fees: $46,752 (2013-14)
Enrollment: 4,193

There is more surprises in the remainder of top 20 (which include multiple ties): Johns Hopkins University (12), Northwestern (12), Brown (14), Washington University in St. Louis (14), Cornell (16), Vanderbilt (17), Rice (18), Notre Dame(18), Emory (20), Georgetown (20), and Berkeley (20). Everyone of these rankings is a bit of a surprise in my view. Johns Hopkins continues to rank just under the top ten schools. However, it is Washington University’s placement that is most notable in my view.

George Washington University had a disappointing placement as 52 — just out of the top 50. I honestly view that as artificially low due to the high tuition factor. Nevertheless, it is in good company with University of Texas (Austin) and University of Washington. The GWU administration has been hit recently with accounting errors that were an embarrassment for the school. Notably, there is a jump of tied schools just above GWU, meaning that meaningful changes could result is a significant jump.

On the college side, the top five are Williams (1), Amherst (2), Swarthmore (3), Bowdoin (4), Middlebury (4), and Pomona (4).

12 thoughts on “Princeton Takes Top Spot In Ranking of National Universities”

  1. Those rankings of the top liberal arts colleges don’t change much, nick. Visited Amherst with son but Williams is so isolated and so preppy we did not tour. Swarthmore is a 20 minute train ride from downtown Philly, and there is a Jim’s cheese steak not far from campus..

  2. It’s after Rice where Prof. Turley’s numbers are slightly off…

    The listing should be as follows:

    Rice(18), Notre Dame (18), Emory(20), Georgetown(20), UC Berkeley(20) and then Carnegie Mellon (23)

  3. Oh, yeah? What happened to UMBC, previously ranked equal to Stanford?

    I was an undergrad at UMBC (’88) and did graduate studies at Columbia (’01). As far as undergrad education, there is no comparison. UMBC is so far ahead of Columbia they can’t see each other. At these top universities, undergrad education is ignored. At Columbia, the grade inflation was so high that many A students would have not passed at UMBC.

    Here’s what I observed as a TA in Biochemistry. There were 2 exams (100 points each) and a final (200 points). One student scored a cumulative 2 points. I gave her those 2 points, and it was marginal. She got a D in the class, not an F. No student with a B or worse would have passed the same class at UMBC. Some students with A’s had not mastered the basic concepts.

    I had to take one additional semester of Calculus required for my program. I had one semester as an undergrad at UMBC. Instead of taking Calc II I signed up for Calc III because a friend was taking that one and I only needed to pass. I didn’t buy the textbook, and I didn’t do any of the homework. I wasn’t serious about it. The first exam was before the drop date so I figured I would try it just for fun since I was not at all prepared. Imagine my surprise when I, who had done no work and had never taken the prerequisite course, got the highest grade in the class. Do you get it? I _did_not_study_. I did not even _have_ the textbook. I am _weak_ in math. Yet I outperformed these people I subsequently refereed to as “Ivy League Twits”.

    So what do these ratings mean? Nothing, as far as I can see. I assume they are bought and paid for like everything else.


  4. Notre Dame is tied with Rice university for 18th. There is an error somewhere in your listing there, I can’t tell exactly where from my phone though.

  5. Utter uselessness, small moves in the 1top 10, let alone in the top 50 are meaningless. These easily gamed rankings probably have helped drive destructive changes in higher education (e.g., administration driven pr focusing on the superficial) over the past couple decades. Without the rankings USNWR would have disappeared long ago, which in retrosepct wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

  6. Do you really put that much faith in rankings? Its an ego stroke that often is very disconnected from the quality of education received. I have to strongly agree with Bill Gates that the college ranking system is perverse.

  7. We have spent a few days in Newport, RI. Yesterday I was walking in the Mansion District and stumbled upon Salve Regina University. I had never heard of this Catholic school. It is in an incredibly beautiful area w/ former mansions for dorms! I read up on it and learned the Catholic Church saw an opportunity during the Depression to buy up mansions the “new poor” could no longer afford.

  8. I had a couple Washington University clients that are indeed crowing this morning. I hope SWM is satisfied w/ being just behind 2 of the Big 3.

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