The Johns Hopkins University edged closer to the top 10 of national universities on the U.S. News and World Report annual rankings, which were released Tuesday.
U.S. News moved Hopkins up one spot to No. 12, just behind Dartmouth College and tied with Northwestern University, in the most-often cited of numerous college rankings. It was the highest ranking for Hopkins in 14 years. As expected based on prior rankings, Princeton, Harvard and Yale remained in the top three spots, in that order.
"It is always great to see recognition for the hard work of our faculty and staff in building a fabulous academic and student life experience," said Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels.
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Hopkins' biomedical engineering specialty remained No. 1 in the country. Hopkins also was ranked 20th in the category of "great schools at great prices." Forty-one percent of its students receive grants based on need, and the average cost of the school after need-based aid is $26,744 a year.
Other colleges and universities in the state remained in spots similar to last year. For the fifth year in a row, UMBC was named the top up-and-coming university in the nation, and perhaps as important, officials said, it was ranked sixth for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.
"We take the recognition very seriously," said UMBC provost Philip Rous. The two rankings, he said, "really represent the fundamental commitments at UMBC. We are very innovative and entrepreneurial."
UMBC won't have to take down the sign at its campus entrance promoting its top billing as an up-and-coming university. The ranking is based on a survey of college administrators who were asked to nominate institutions that they believe have recently made the most promising and innovative changes.
Loyola University Maryland was given sixth in the up-and-coming category among regional northern universities.
Once again this year, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis headed the list for best public colleges in the nation, leading the Army and Air Force academies. St. Mary's College of Maryland was fifth on the list.
The U.S. News and World report rankings divide the nation's colleges into categories that allow them to be judged by their peers, including national universities and liberal arts colleges.
The rankings were adjusted this year to give less weight to high school rank of incoming freshmen and more weight to graduation and retention rates. The rankings are based on many factors, including graduation rates, freshman retention rates, SAT and ACT scores of entering freshmen, and alumni giving.
One of the most important factors is the reputation of the institution among administrators of peer institutions, which accounts for 22 percent of the formula. Faculty resources count 20 percent and selectivity counts 15 percent.
The rankings have come under criticism for years, particularly because some believe colleges have taken actions, particularly in admissions, in order to boost their rankings.
"There is no ranking system that can tell student A or student B which is the right university for him or her. Applicants should take the time to understand what is important to them and what a university has to offer," Daniels said. "Various measures (including rankings) may be factors students consider, but they should also take into account the programs, people, location, campus, culture — and ultimately fit."
Public colleges and universities, which tend to be less selective, have not done as well in the rankings as private institutions. No public university was in the top 10, and the University of Maryland, College Park was ranked 62nd, down four from last year. Among public universities, College Park was 21st.
UMBC's overall rank among national universities was 158th. Most universities in the state were not ranked in the national category but in the regional category. Of the best regional institutions in the north, Loyola University came in fifth; Mount St. Mary's University, 20th; Hood College, 37th; Towson University, 54th; Notre Dame of Maryland University, 60th; Salisbury University, 66th; and Stevenson University and the University of Baltimore, tied for 87th.
On the list of the best national liberal arts colleges, the Naval Academy was 12th; St. Mary's College, 89th; Washington College, 107th; Goucher College, 110th; St. John's College, 123rd; and McDaniel College, 126th.
U.S. News college rankings
The following are some highlights for Maryland institutions:
Hopkins: Ranked No. 12 in national universities
UMBC: Ranked No. 1 up-and-coming university for fifth year in a row
Naval Academy: Ranked No. 1 public college
College Park: Ranked No. 21 among public universities
Loyola University: Ranked No. 6 up-and-coming university in the north and fifth best regional university in the north