NC State again made big gains on one of the most closely watched rankings of the nation’s colleges and universities, achieving high scores for academic excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources and alumni giving.
The 2016 “Best Colleges” rankings, published by U.S. News & World Report, placed NC State No. 89 among national universities and 37th among public schools, up six spots from last year in both categories.
NC State has been steadily climbing in the rankings in recent years, moving up an impressive 22 places among national universities since 2010. While not unknown, big moves are rarely seen in the U.S. News rankings. The company’s methodology uses measures that tend to resist change, such as peer assessments, graduation and retention rates and financial resources.
With the adoption of the university’s strategic plan in 2011, NC State has been working hard — and effectively — to improve student success, faculty support and organizational efficiency.
It’s paying off.
In this year’s rankings, for example, the university’s six-year graduation rate hit 76 percent, 4 percent better than its predicted rate. In 2012, by comparison, NC State’s graduation rate was 71 percent.
Value and Quality
There was good news for current and prospective students in the rankings. NC State ranked 15th among public schools for graduating students with the least amount of debt. And it ranked among the top 10 best values in public higher education.
The undergraduate program in the Poole College of Management held steady at No. 93 on the U.S. News list, as did the College of Engineering, which ranked 31st nationally for the second year. NC State’s online degree program ranked 82nd nationally.
The U.S. News rankings are just the latest sign of momentum at NC State.
Kiplinger’s magazine recently ranked the university among the best values in the nation, and the Princeton Review lauded NC State’s performance across a range of measures in its annual guide to the nation’s top colleges and universities. The publication said NC State was among the “colleges that pay you back” and excelled in student health services, campus enthusiasm for athletics, sustainability and alumni engagement, among other things.
The university was recently lauded by PayScale.com for delivering the best return-on-investment of any public university in the state. NC State graduates earn higher early-career salaries on average than their peers who attended other public universities in North Carolina, PayScale reported.
The momentum is not lost on students and alumni. This fall, NC State welcomed its highest-achieving freshman class ever. And donor giving by alumni and supporters hit an all-time high in the fiscal year ending June 30.
Research funding sponsored by industry and government is also seeing big gains, surpassing a record $300 million in each of the past two years.