WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. News & World Report today released the 2016 edition of Best Colleges to help domestic and international students compare the academic quality of U.S.-based schools. The new edition includes data on nearly 1,800 colleges and features rankings of 1,376 schools. Princeton University remains No. 1 in the Best National Universities category, while Williams College once again tops the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges list. The University of California—Berkeley is the No. 1 Top Public School among National Universities.
For the first time, the United States Naval Academy enters the top 10 on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list. The school ties with Claremont McKenna College and Davidson College at No. 9. After 16 years, Johns Hopkins University returns to the top 10 in the National Universities category, tied with the California Institute of Technology at No. 10.
The U.S. News rankings focus on academic excellence, with schools ranked on up to 16 measures of academic quality. The rankings emphasize outcomes, with graduation and retention rates carrying the most weight in the methodology at 30 percent. The top schools all have high six-year graduation rates and strong freshman retention rates:
The average six-year graduation rate is 94.5 percent for the top 10 National Universities and 93.1 percent for the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges.
The average freshman retention rate is 97.3 percent for the top 10 National Universities and 96.7 percent for the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges.
For comparison, the average six-year graduation rate among all numerically ranked schools on the National Universities list is 72.6 percent, and the average freshman retention rate is 87.2 percent.
For comparison, the average six-year graduation rate among all numerically ranked schools on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list is 75.1 percent, and the average freshman retention rate is 86.1 percent.
"Taking into account how well a school supports its students from freshman year through graduation is important," said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News. "To find the best fit, students should consider a range of factors, from financial aid offerings and location to campus size and majors. The process can be overwhelming, but our rankings and advice content are a great place to start."
"We are the only organization that has been ranking schools for over three decades," said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News. "Over that time we have improved our information and sharpened our methodology's focus, with one of the biggest updates being a greater consideration of output measurements."
The college ranking categories are based upon the 2010 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications. The Carnegie classification system has been used by U.S. News since the first Best Colleges rankings in 1983, because they are accepted as the basis for classifying schools by most higher education researchers.
In an exclusive arrangement, the launch of the 2016 edition of Best Colleges is being sponsored by Fidelity Investments. For more information about Best Colleges, visit www.usnews.com/colleges or explore Facebook and Twitter using #BestColleges. To learn more about the U.S. News College Compass, which provides access to the most complete rankings and data, or to order a copy of the "Best Colleges 2016" guidebook (ISBN 978-1-931469-68-5), visit the online U.S. News Store.
Best National Universities 1. Princeton University (NJ) 2. Harvard University (MA) 3. Yale University (CT) 4. Columbia University (NY) 4. Stanford University (CA) 4. University of Chicago (IL) 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 8. Duke University (NC) 9. University of Pennsylvania 10. California Institute of Technology 10. Johns Hopkins University (MD)
Best National Liberal Arts Colleges 1. Williams College (MA) 2. Amherst College (MA) 3. Swarthmore College (PA) 4. Bowdoin College (ME) 4. Middlebury College (VT) 4. Pomona College (CA) 4. Wellesley College (MA) 8. Carleton College (MN) 9. Claremont McKenna College (CA) 9. Davidson College (NC) 9. United States Naval Academy (MD)
Top Public Schools
National Universities 1. University of California—Berkeley 2. University of California—Los Angeles 3. University of Virginia 4. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 5. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill
Liberal Arts Colleges 1. United States Naval Academy (MD) 2. United States Military Academy (NY) 3. United States Air Force Academy (CO) 4. New College of Florida 4. Virginia Military Institute
Best Value Schools
National Universities 1. Princeton University (NJ) 2. Harvard University (MA) 3. Yale University (CT) 4. Stanford University (CA) 5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Liberal Arts Colleges 1. Amherst College (MA) 2. Pomona College (CA) 3. Williams College (MA) 4. Soka University of America (CA) 5. Vassar College (NY)
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