Head of the class

TCU climbs the charts in prestigious new U.S. News & World Report college rankings

TCU climbs charts in prestigious new U.S. News & World Report rankings

TCU Horned Frog
Feelin' that Horned Frog pride. Facebook/TCU

A trusted annual report that compares more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions in the United States has given the Horned Frogs a reason to be proud. U.S. News & World Report's new 2021 Best Colleges report has ranked Fort Worth's Texas Christian University No. 80 nationwide. That's up 17 spots from ranking of No. 97 in 2020.

This, on the heels of another recent report, by neighborhood review site Niche.com, that ranked TCU No. 6 in Texas and No. 110 nationwide.

The U.S. News report, released September 14, gave TCU high marks in the categories of Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (No. 33), Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 50), Best Undergraduate Teaching (No. 61), Best Value Schools (No. 87), and also cited it as No. 366 in the category of Top Performers on Social Mobility. (No, that doesn't have to do with social media, although TCU is among Texas' most Instagrammed schools.)

“Although an institution’s quality cannot solely be judged by any publication’s set priorities, these rankings reaffirm what we at TCU already know — our academic excellence and student experience are among the best in the country for 148 years," says Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. in a release. "TCU has been a leading university because of our outstanding faculty and staff and our world-class students and alumni."

Nationally, TCU (somehow!) tied at No. 80 with a number of other schools: Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Michigan University in East Lansing, Michigan; North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina; University of Denver in Colorado; and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The prestigious U.S. News report compared the institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission). 

"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, in a release. "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."

Among Texas' other top schools, UT Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up six spots from 2020. It's the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. UT Austin also rates as the top public university in Texas.

Elsewhere, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University comes in at No. 76.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the title of best university in Texas once again goes to Rice. The prestigious Houston school ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year. 

Besides earning high marks for its undergraduate teaching, innovation, and value, Rice gets special mention from U.S. News for its quality of student life.

"Rice University, located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, offers a dynamic student life in the nation’s fourth-largest city," the report says.

So, which university is head of the class, nationally, in 2021?

That honor would go to Princeton University, followed by Harvard, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale to round out the top five.