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NC State Continues to Climb in National Rankings

NC State gains ground in the 2021 U.S. News ranking of America's best colleges. The university has moved up nine spots in the past five years, driven largely by student success.

NC State Belltower at sunset

NC State moved up in a closely watched ranking of national universities, boosted by improvements in graduation rates, alumni giving and the academic record of incoming freshmen.

In its annual list of America’s best colleges, U.S. News & World Report ranked NC State 80th among national universities, 32nd among public institutions. That’s an increase of nine spots overall and six spots among publics since 2016. NC State’s raw score has jumped 37% in the past five years.

Year over year, NC State’s 6-year graduation rate moved up 1.75 percentage points to 80.25%. The average first-year student retention rate remained unchanged at 94%.

The percentage of incoming students in the top 10% of their high school class moved up 2 percentage points to 50%. SAT math, reading and writing scores improved 9 points on average.

The percentage of alumni providing financial support to NC State ticked up to 10.7%.

Several undergraduate programs scored well: engineering ranked 32nd, biological and agricultural engineering 10th and software engineering ninth. NC State ranked 65th in value nationally.

Rankings Tied to Resources

The rankings reflected a few challenges the university will have to overcome to continue its climb on the list — challenges that come with a price tag.

Its ranking for faculty resources, which accounts for 20% of the total score, dropped 13 spots. NC State did see improvements in a few measures in this category, including faculty compensation and the percentage of faculty with terminal degrees. But overall NC State lost ground against other national universities in this area.

NC State’s financial resources rank dropped five spots, reflecting a 2% decrease in the amount of money NC State spends per student for instruction, research and student services.

The university’s peer assessment rank, which accounts for 20% of the total score, dropped nine spots. NC State’s social mobility rank, which accounts for 5% of the total score, fell 13 spots.