U.S. News & World Report Announces the 2021 Best Colleges Rankings

"U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today unveiled the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges. As students and schools across the nation grapple with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. News remains committed to providing data-driven information and guidance to help prospective students and their families understand their higher education options.

‘The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote,’ said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. ‘Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them.’

This year’s edition includes several updates to the Best Colleges methodology that address important issues directly impacting students and their families. These new measures look at timely topics such as student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies. In this edition, U.S. News:" …


thank you!

“Global authority” is a bit presumptuous. Most well-know, most-often-referenced - sure.

“ the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.”

But it will still be interesting to review, and I’m sure some will crow or fret about moving three positions.

Duke slipping to #12 is the most interesting to me. Duke has been moving slowly but steadily downward from its peak in the late 90s/early 2000s (#3 in 1998), and this is the first time it’s ranked outside the top 10 since 1988.

National Universities:

  1. Princeton

  2. Harvard

  3. Columbia

  4. MIT

  5. Yale

  6. Stanford

  7. Chicago

8 )UPenn

9) Johns Hopkins

  1. Duke

  2. Dartmouth College

  3. Brown

  4. Vanderbilt

  5. Rice

  6. WashUStL

  7. Cornell

  8. Notre Dame

  9. UCLA

  10. Emory

  11. UCal-Berkeley

  12. Georgetown

  13. Michigan

  14. USC

  15. Carnegie Mellon (CMU)

  16. Virginia

  17. UNC-Chapel Hill

  18. Wake Forest (WFU)

  19. NYU

  20. Tufts

  21. UC-Santa Barbara

  22. University of Florida

@warblersrule : Interesting observation regarding Duke University. Nevertheless, its current ranking seems about right when examining the list of universities ranked ahead of Duke.

ND has slipped from #15 (circa 2017, I believe) to #18 for the past couple years and is now #19.

USC has slipped from #21 in 2018 to #24 in 2021.

Michigan has now moved up from #27 in 2019 to #25 in 2020 and now in 2021 is ranked #24, tied with USC.

Liberal Arts Colleges (LACs):

  1. Williams College

  2. Amherst College

  3. Swarthmore College

  4. Pomona College

  5. Vassar College

  6. Bowdoin College

  7. Claremont McKenna College (CMC)

  8. US Naval Academy at Annapolis

  9. Carleton College

  10. Hamilton College

  11. Middlebury College

  12. Washington & Lee University

  13. Grinnell College

  14. Vassar College

  15. Colby College (lots of new facilities)

  16. Davidson College

  17. Haverford College

  18. Smith College

  19. US Military Academy at West Point

  20. Colgate University

  21. Wesleyan University

  22. Barnard College

  23. Bates College

  24. University of Richmond

  25. Colorado College (almost unique–Cornell College in Iowa–one course at a time)

  26. Harvey Mudd College (hardworking genius environment)

  27. Macalester College–great urban location

  28. Bryn Mawr

  29. Kenyon College–cozy, gorgeous campus

  30. Scripps College

  31. Soka University of America

  32. US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs–(how is the USAFA not ranked among the the top 10 ?)

  33. Berea College–a school deserving of praise for its mission and execution of that goal

  34. Bucknell University–large for an LAC at almost 3,600 students

  35. College of the Holy Cross

  36. Oberlin College

  37. Pitzer College

  38. Skidmore College

  39. Lafayette College

  40. Occidental

  41. Thomas Aquinas

  42. Franklin & Marshall

  43. Denison University

  44. Trinity College–actively increasing diversity

  45. Union College

  46. DePauw–Greek life is huge

  47. Dickinson College

  48. University of the South at Sewanee–breathtaking mountain location

  49. Whitman College–located in Washington state

  50. Connecticut College–located near the ocean & near the US Coast Guard Academy

  51. Centre College

  52. Furman University–fairly conservative, beautiful campus, lots of partial scholarships awarded each year, Division I athletics

  53. Bard College

  54. Gettysburg College

  55. Hillsdale College

  56. Rhodes College

  57. St. Lawrence University

  58. Wabash College–(small, all male school in Indiana)

Interesting that highly regarded Lawrence University in Wisconsin is ranked at #63.

@publisher, can you provide the National Liberal Arts Colleges list as well?

Top Ten Most Expensive Schools measured by tuition & fees:

  1. Columbia University–$64,380 for tuition & fees

  2. Kenyon College–$61,100

  3. Franklin & Marshall College–$61,062

  4. Vassar College–$60,930

  5. Amherst College–$60,890–offers a tremendous amount of financial aid, however.

  6. Colorado College–$60,864

  7. Tufts University–$60,862

  8. Brown University–$60,696

  9. Duke University–$60,488

  10. Boston College–$60,202

These figures do NOT include costs for room & board, books, transportation, & personal expenses.

@TennisParent: Yes, see post #7 above.

For 2020-21, the typical student expense budget at Amherst College includes but not limited to:

Comprehensive fee (tuition, room and board): $75,800
Other student fees (student activities, campus center programs and residential governance): $1,000
Health insurance* (may be waived): $2,358
Tuition insurance (may be waived): $118 (per semester) ***
Books and supplies (estimated): $1,000
Personal expenses (estimated): $1,800
Travel/Transportation** (estimated; varies by location): $50-$2,500
Cost of attendance: $82,008 – $84,458

It’s always nice to see my alma mater moving up the regional rankings, even if nobody cares about the regional rankings.

According to the 2019-20 CDS, most Amherst students claimed FA with an average grant size of $59k. I’m sure the numbers will be higher this year. If most students claim grant-based FA and receive such large grants, it is misleading to imply the 'typical student expense" is $76k. Instead a minority of students have such high expenses… generally students who are quite wealthy.

@Publisher: In reply #7 you omitted Wellesley, which should have appeared at #4, and listed Vassar twice.

Berkeley behind WashU, Emory, Rice, Vandy, JHU, Notre Dame and Northwestern? No way…

^^^^^It’s been that way for years. Are you just visiting USNWR rankings for the first time? The bigger surprise is when UCLA overtook them in the recent past.

Yeah, we have not paid attention. Makes no sense to me…

As the saying goes, Berkeley is the University of California’s past, UCLA is the University of California’s present, and (some add), Irvine is the University of California’s future.

From the Amherst website below - if 60% receive financial aid then 40% of students do not. Health insurance can only be waived if you provide evidence of your own insurance. All students must be covered. For those accepted financial aid or not it is a top notch education!

Nearly 60% of our students receive financial aid. Our average financial aid award last year was more than $58,000. So the majority of our students pay less – often far less – than the cost of attendance.