The University ranks fifth among the nation’s best public universities for the eighth consecutive year, according to U.S. News & World Report magazine.
“Carolina is consistently recognized among the five best public universities in America,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “We find value in assessing the various measures that determine such rankings. In the case of U.S. News, we are most interested in results from areas including faculty resources and student success. Our focus is on retaining and attracting excellent faculty, who are the key to recruiting the very best students from North Carolina and beyond to Chapel Hill.”
The new rankings appear in the 2009 edition of the magazine’s “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook, now on newsstands.
Among public universities, Berkeley was first, followed by Virginia (second) UCLA (third), Michigan (fourth) and UNC (fifth). Overall, Carolina ranked 30th among public and private national universities. In that list, other top publics ranked between 21st (Berkeley) and 26th (Michigan). UNC tied with Tufts University at 28th last year. The same 25 privates and five publics have appeared in the magazine’s top 30 spots for the last five years.
The rankings, which are dominated by private universities, are based on a formula factoring in responses to opinion surveys about academic quality from peer campus presidents, provosts or admissions officials. Objective data covers areas such as student graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.
Other U.S. News rankings this year assessed academic quality and affordability, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, undergraduate business school programs and innovative undergraduate education programs. UNC results included the following:
- 1st among public universities for the fourth consecutive year and ninth overall for the third straight year in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student receiving average need-based financial aid.
- 18th among publics for “least debt” and 24th overall. Average student debt was $14,912 for UNC’s class of 2007; 34 percent of graduating seniors borrowed.
- A 96 percent first-year retention rate – the same as last year and comparable to results since 1999. The other four top publics remained between 96 percent and 97 percent.
- An 83 percent average six-year graduation rate – consistent with results from the prior four years. UNC’s four-year rate is about 72 percent; U.S. News reports six-year rates.
- 50th for faculty resources. That’s the same as last year, but down from 40th in 2006. This category, which counts 20 percent of the overall ranking, measures undergraduate class size; two years (2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years) of average total faculty compensation (salary and benefits) based on indexes compiled by a consultant and weighted for regional differences; student-faculty ratio; and percentage of faculty who are full time and have earned their field’s highest degree.
- 44 percent of UNC course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students, ranking fourth behind Berkeley (62 percent), UCLA (53 percent) and Virginia (49 percent).
- Only 12 percent of UNC course sections enrolled 50 or more students; the best mark among the four other leading public peers.
- Tied for 6th among the best undergraduate business programs. Kenan-Flagler Business School’s program tied for 6th with Carnegie Mellon, Texas at Austin and Virginia. Specialties ranked include marketing, fourth, and management, fifth.
- Listed among the “Programs to Look For,” highlighting outstanding academic programs that lead to student success. UNC’s undergraduate research/creative projects and service learning program appeared on the U.S. News list of exemplary examples.