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U.S. News rankings highlight W&M undergraduate teaching, research

Alumni philanthropy also noted as No. 1 public and among the nation’s best

U.S. News & World Report highlights several areas of William & Mary, including undergraduate teaching and research, in its latest rankings of colleges and universities.

In the report released today, the university ranked fifth overall in undergraduate teaching, 13th overall for undergraduate research and tied for 14th overall for alumni giving, a ranking that improved from 17th a year ago and up from 29th since 2015.

Overall, William & Mary tied for 40th among all universities and 12th among public institutions. Those placements dropped slightly from last year when W&M was ranked 38th overall and 10th among public institutions, due in part to changes in U.S. News’ methodology.

Last year, U.S. News added a social mobility ranking that resulted in major shifts in the rankings: Among last year’s top-50 universities, seven saw drops of five or more places. This year, U.S. News removed the high school counselor ranking, which accounted for 7.5 % of the overall score two years ago and 5% a year ago. William & Mary historically scored well in the counselor ranking, including 32nd a year ago.

U.S News added a new set of rankings this year as part of an “Academic Programs to Look For” feature. In addition to undergraduate research, W&M appeared in several lists as part of the new category, including tied at 20th for its senior capstone program and tied at 14th for first-year experience.

The university was also tied at 18th among national institutions for best colleges for veterans. At 110, the university’s financial resources score was the lowest among the top 50 national universities.

Thanks to the momentum of the For the Bold campaign, William & Mary continues to see success in areas of alumni engagement and philanthropy and consistently ranks as the top nationally ranked public university for percentage of undergraduate alumni giving. The university continues to move up in the U.S. News ranking that looks at the participation rate of undergraduate alumni who give annually to the university. Surpassing several Ivy League universities and tied for 14th overall, W&M has improved from 35th in 2011, the first year of the campaign, and 43rd a decade ago.

“This year’s U.S. News rankings identified several areas that can be points of pride,” said Brian Whitson, chief communications officer. “We also saw slight drops in the overall and public university categories. This is a reflection of both the major changes in methodology U.S. News implemented last year and continued this year and also the reality of financial challenges the university faces.”

A year ago, U.S. News implemented major changes in its methodology, including de-emphasizing certain factors, such as graduation and retention rates, and emphasizing others, such as Pell Grant recipients.

While William & Mary has seen some success in increasing the number of Pell recipients from Virginia (up 10 percent since 2014), the university continues to have work to do in this area, particularly with students from outside Virginia, Whitson said.

“The percentage of in-state Pell recipients in this year’s freshman class is 14.5%, which compares favorably to other top universities,” Whitson said. “Our largest gap is in available aid for out-of-state students with Pell Grants, which made up just 2.4% of out-of-state undergraduate freshmen. We’re committed to improving this. Scholarships are the top priority of our For the Bold capital campaign.”

Several other publications have also recently released college rankings, including USA Today. In July, the paper published a list of 50 schools that “pay off the most.” In that report, William & Mary ranked seventh overall, making it the highest-ranked public university from the Commonwealth of Virginia on the list.

According to the most recent data from the National Science Foundation, William & Mary has the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients who go on to earn Ph.D.s of any public research university in the nation.

In August, Princeton Review released its “Best 385 Colleges” book. W&M appears on several rankings within, including: Best Career Services (ninth), Best College Library (sixth), Best College Theater (18th), Best Quality of Life (12th), Best Science Lab Facilities (eighth), Happiest Students (sixth), LGBTQ-Friendly (15th), Lots of Race/Class Interaction (second), Most Beautiful Campus (16th), Most Engaged in Community Service (seventh), Most Popular Study Abroad Program (9th) and Their Students Love These Colleges (sixth).

Money magazine also released college rankings in August. In those, William & Mary ranked 45th overall and 29th among best public colleges.

In the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking, released in early September, W&M ranked 79th among all universities. That number is up from 87th last year and 100th the year before.

Also in September, Forbes released its MBA program ranking, which focuses on return on investment for graduates. W&M's full-time MBA program ranked 44th, a significant leap from last year when the program was ranked 58th.


Correction: The story originally stated that W&M was tied for 11th for alumni giving. That should have been tied for 14th. It has been corrected above.