UW-Madison ranked 15th best public university, drops slightly from last year, report says

September 11, 2018

Wisconsin’s flagship university remains one of the top public higher education institutions in the United States despite a slight drop compared to last year, according to a report released Monday.

UW-Madison tied for 15th best public university throughout the nation for the 2018-19 academic year in an annual ranking released by U.S. News & World Report magazine. When public and private universities are considered together, UW-Madison came in at a four-way tie for the No. 49 spot.

Last year, UW-Madison tied for 12th place in the magazine’s public universities ranking, and it was No. 10 during the 2016-17 academic year. UW-Madison’s spot among all universities for this year represents a three-spot drop compared to last year.

U.S. News & World Report evaluates higher education institutions on 16 measures of quality, such as retention and graduation rates, average class size, and peer assessments from leaders of other universities.

Universities receive separate rankings on certain measures that factor into their overall score. UW-Madison placed 55th on graduation and retention rates of the 229 major public and private universities included in the overall ranking.

The university ranked 131st in faculty resources, which accounts for things like student-to-faculty ratio and the percentage of faculty who have the highest degree possible in their field. But UW-Madison fares better in the financial resources category, which weighs the average spending per student. It came in at No. 61 on that measure.

In this year’s ranking, the magazine added social mobility as a factor by tracking the graduation rates of students who receive a federal Pell Grant, which typically goes to students who come from households making $50,000 or less annually, and comparing it to those who do not receive the grant.

UW-Madison’s School of Business also received high marks.

Overall, the undergraduate business programs tied for 18th, while the real estate and insurance/risk management programs both ranked at No. 2. The university’s engineering programs for undergraduates tied for 14th place.

UW-Madison tied for 23rd best public or private university for veterans and active-duty armed service members.

The top 10 public universities consist of: UCLA (1); University of California-Berkeley (2); Virginia (3); Michigan (4); UC-Santa Barbara, North Carolina-Chapel Hill (5-tied); UC-Irvine (7); Georgia Tech, Florida (8-tied); and College of William and Mary, UC-Davis (10-tied).

Among public universities, the Big Ten Conference schools ranked: Michigan (4); Illinois (13); Wisconsin (15); Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers ( 17-tied); Penn State (20); Maryland (22); Minnesota (30); Michigan State (35); Indiana and Iowa ( 38-tied), and Nebraska (61).

The top 10 public or private universities for the 2018-19 academic year are: Princeton (1); Harvard (2); Columbia, MIT, University of Chicago, Yale (3-tied); Stanford (7); Duke, University of Pennsylvania (8-tied); and Johns Hopkins and Northwestern (10-tied).

Among all universities, the Big Ten Conference schools stand at: Northwestern (10); Michigan (27); Illinois (46); Wisconsin (49); Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers ( 56-tied); Penn State (59); Maryland (63); Minnesota (76); Michigan State (85); Indiana and Iowa ( 89-tied); and Nebraska (129).

According to the report, the average debt for UW-Madison’s graduating class of 2017 was $27,979 with 45 percent of students reporting the need to borrow funds. Graduates of Edgewood College had an average debt of $35,300 in 2017 with 79 percent of students borrowing money.

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