Penn State

Where does Penn State rank among the nation’s top universities?

Old Main on the Penn State campus on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
Old Main on the Penn State campus on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State ranked No. 59 on U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 Best National University Rankings.

It tied with Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Last year, Penn State was ranked at No. 52.

“The change in Penn State’s ranking appears to be associated with a change in methodology by U.S. News to emphasize what they term ‘social mobility factors’ that unfortunately does not recognize Penn State’s unique one university, multi-campus model,” the university said in a statement. “While we applaud this as an important consideration, and indeed the university’s percentage of Pell eligible students (24 percent) is significant, the U.S. News’ methodology is not able to properly account for Penn State’s distributed four-year and 2+2 model that enables access to low-income and first-generation students, and others, at 20 Penn State campuses across the commonwealth.”

The university said that U.S. News rankings emphasize resource-based measures that “tend to favor private institutions,” like per-student resources, but “important qualitative outcomes less so.”

Penn State pointed to its place in the 2018-19 Center for World University Rankings — which, the university said, “emphasizes quality measurements such as strenth of the university’s research enterprise” — where it ranked 30th among American universities and 43rd worldwide.

“The U.S. News methodology’s inability to capture these important characteristics of a uniquely configured university like Penn State that is committed to access and affordability make reliable comparisons with other institutions difficult,” the university said.

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The top school in the nation is Princeton, and the best public university is University of California-Los Angeles, according to the rankings.

Here’s how Penn State’s Big Ten peers stacked up:

  • Northwestern (the only private college in the conference), No. 10
  • University of Michigan, No. 27
  • University of Illinois, No. 46
  • University of Wisconsin, No. 49
  • Ohio State, No. 56
  • Purdue, No. 56
  • Rutgers, No. 56
  • University of Maryland, No. 63
  • University of Minnesota, No. 76
  • Michigan State, No. 85
  • Indiana University, No. 89
  • University of Iowa, No. 89
  • University of Nebraska, No. 129

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