By PETER THUNELL
After steadily increasing in all categories, BYU jumped 29 places in this year’s U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Survey, according to Robert J. Morse, deputy director of data research at the magazine. The university now ranks 80th overall of the 228 national universities. In the four tier system, this increase takes BYU from the third tier to the second tier.
The August 30 issue of U.S. News and World Report, which hits newsstands August 23, ranks about 1400 four-year accredited colleges and universities by mission and region. BYU is listed under the “national universities” category, which are schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, emphasize faculty research, and offer various masters and doctoral studies.
BYU’s business and engineering programs also ranked among the best in the nation. The BYU undergraduate business program ranked 32nd out of 327 schools. In the best business programs, BYU’s accounting program is ranked 6th, and its general management program is ranked 31st. The engineering program is listed as one of the “best undergraduate engineering schools with Ph.D. programs.” It ranked 85th out of 182 schools.
The rankings for the universities come from scores in seven main categories: academic reputation, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate and alumni giving rate.
BYU President Merrill J. Bateman attributes the rise in the ranks in all categories and not just a select few.
“We are very pleased with our final ranking, particularly as it reflects overall improvement across a broad set of categories,” President Bateman said in a press release. “From the university’s freshman retention rate, to faculty resources, to our alumni giving rate. We are seeing progress in many areas.”
BYU’s high scores in the areas of retention and graduation rate performance, helped its overall ranking. But according to Carri Jenkins, director of media relations, those used to be numbers that hurt BYU. U.S. News used to ask how many students returned the next year after their freshman year.
Because 95 percent of all BYU freshman males leave to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this hurt BYU’s score. A few years ago, though, the magazine changed the wording of the question to students that return for a “second” year, which in turn helped BYU and other schools where students left for military service, the Peace Corps, etc.
Also BYU’s graduation rate stays high, despite the fact that U.S. News asks about students that graduate in six years, a feat that is difficult for many who serve LDS missions, said Bruce Higley, director of Institutional Analysis and Data Administration at BYU, in a press release.
Jenkins also said that the caliber of students entering BYU continues to rise. ACT scores of entering freshman and where they ranked in their classes increases every year.