Office of Planning and Budgeting

The University of Washington is ranked #25 in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. While other top U.S. universities have slipped in the rankings, the UW maintains its #25 position for the second year in a row. For the first time in the history of the THE rankings, neither of the top two universities are in the U.S.

The THE World University Rankings were first published in 2004. This year’s rankings list 1,000 universities around the world.

Five categories contribute to a university’s ranking score. Of these, teaching (measured by reputation survey, student-faculty ratio, and number of doctoral degrees), research (measured by reputation survey, research income, and publication count), and citations combine to account for 90 percent of the score. The UW scores particularly highly in the citation category, measured as the number of times a university’s researchers are cited by other scholars. The UW’s #17 ranking in citations, with a score of 99.0 out of 100, contributes to its high overall score. In contrast, the UW’s scores in international outlook and industry income—which together account for 10 percent of the overall ranking—are lower in comparison with other top universities.

More information about the Times Higher Ed methodology is available on their website.

The UW is also ranked highly on this year’s U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list, coming in at #56 among national universities and #18 among public universities. While this represents a slight drop from last year’s #16 ranking among public universities, it continues a long run of being listed among the top 20.

The U.S. News rankings are calculated using seven categories of data: graduation and retention rates; assessment surveys of academic peers and high school guidance counselors; faculty resources; admissions selectivity; per-student spending; performance relative to predicted graduation rate; and alumni donations. Along with the overall university rankings, U.S. News also calculates several more specific lists. The UW ranked highly for undergraduate engineering programs (#11 among doctorate-granting public universities), best colleges for veterans (#11 among public universities), and undergraduate business programs (#14 among public universities).

More information about the U.S. News methodology is available on their website.

The UW’s recognition in these rankings follows the Academic Ranking of World Universities (which ranked the UW #13 in the world) and the Center for World University Rankings (which gave the UW top-10 rankings in 45 subject categories), both published earlier in 2017.

The University of Washington is ranked #13 among world universities on the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). While the UW has consistently ranked among the top 20 universities each year since the ARWU was first published, this year’s ranking is the highest it has achieved to date.

The ARWU was first published in 2003 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for World-Class Universities. Since 2009, the ranking has been published by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, which is not affiliated with any university. This year, the ARWU ranked 1300 universities around the world, and published the list of the top 500.

Like the recently-published Center for World University Rankings list, the ARWU calculates its rankings based on a university’s external recognition. The components of the ARWU ranking include: total number of alumni and faculty winning major awards; number of highly-cited researchers employed; and counts the number of papers published and cited. The UW scores especially highly in the number of faculty-authored articles indexed in major science and social-science citation indices. In contrast, the number of UW alumni awarded Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals is lower when compared with other top universities. More information about the ARWU’s methodology is available on their website.

In addition to their overall rankings, the ARWU also publishes subject rankings in a number of fields in the natural sciences, engineering, life sciences, medical sciences, and social sciences. The UW’s highest subject rankings in 2017 include: public health (#3 in the world), dentistry and oral sciences (#3), biological sciences (#5), and biomedical engineering (#5).

More information about the UW’s past rankings in the ARWU is available here.

The Princeton Review has released its Best 382 Colleges, 2018 Edition, with the University of Washington earning a spot among the top 382, including ranking highly on both the Top Schools for Entrepreneurship:  Undergraduate (#11) and The Top 50 Green Colleges (#10). The UW also appears on two unranked lists: Colleges that Pay You Back (one of 209 listed) and the Best Western Colleges (one of 127 listed).

The methodology to produce the Top Green Colleges ratings and rankings includes a combination of school-reported data and student opinion survey questions measuring a school’s performance on environment and sustainability. This year, the UW earned a Green Rating of 99/99 (based on administrators’ responses and data provided) and a Top 50 Green College Ranking of #10 (by student survey responses).

Similarly, the UW’s #11 ranking on the “Top Schools for Entrepreneurship: Undergraduate” list comes from survey responses regarding college entrepreneurship offerings. These surveys include questions on entrepreneurship programs and degrees; student and faculty participation in entrepreneurship; alumni ventures; competitions; and scholarships and aid. Seattle’s Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, Startup UW (a student club dedicated to entrepreneurship), and CoMotion likely contribute to the high marks in this category.

In addition, the University of Washington was recognized by The Princeton Review on their lists of Best Western Colleges (a regional list of institutions), and Colleges that Pay You Back. Colleges That Pay You Back is a list of the top colleges based on a combination of academic strength, affordability and graduates’ career prospects.

The Princeton Review first published a list of The Top Colleges in 1992. Updated annually, The Princeton Review collects data on more than 2,000 institutions each year for analysis. Approximately 15% of the country’s 2,500 four-year institutions appear on the list. For more information, please visit The Princeton Review Best 382 Colleges.

The Center for World University Rankings has ranked the University of Washington among the top universities in the world. In its inaugural Rankings by Subject, released last week, CWUR ranked the UW in the top 10 worldwide in a total of 45 subject categories. The UW had the ninth-most top-10 appearances of any university, ranking just behind the University of Oxford (47 top-10 appearances) and just ahead of MIT (41).

Unlike most university rankings, CWUR does not make use of data provided by universities themselves. Instead, the CWUR Rankings by Subject are calculated based on the number of research articles published in top-tier journals by an institution’s faculty. CWUR ranked a total of 227 subject areas.

The UW’s top-10 rankings included fields from Acoustics (6th) to Women’s Studies (5th). In all, the UW received top-5 rankings in 22 fields, and its Social Work program was ranked #1 in the world.

More information on CWUR’s methodology is available on their website.

On December 15, 2016, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance released its 2017 list of the top 300 “Best College Values.” Kiplinger’s ranks their top 100 public universities based on both in-state and out-of-state cost of attendance. The University of Washington was ranked #12 among public universities in value for in-state students and #24 among public universities in value for out-of-state students. This continues a history of high rankings for the UW. Over the past five years, the UW has ranked #17 or better for in-state state students, and #28 or better for out-of-state students, each year.

The calculations for Kiplinger’s rankings are based on quality criteria (which account for 55 percent of an institution’s overall ranking) and cost criteria (which account for the remaining 45 percent). Quality criteria include:

  • Measures of competitiveness and selectivity (admission rate, percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, and ACT and SAT scores of incoming freshman);
  • Four-year graduation rate; and
  • Measures of academic support (freshman retention rate and student-to-faculty ratio).

Cost criteria include:

  • Total cost (including tuition and fees as well as books and room and board, with added points for “schools that reduce the price through need-based [grant] aid” or “knock down the price through non-need-based aid”) and
  • Student indebtedness (students’ average debt at graduation and the percentage of students who borrow).

Because public institutions typically have different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, Kiplinger’s provides two separate rankings. While the quality criteria used in both rankings are the same, only in-state students’ cost of attendance factors into the in-state ranking (and likewise for the out-of-state ranking).

As the Kiplinger’s ranking is based on selectiveness, academic outcomes, and cost, it should not be interpreted as either a “best colleges” list or a “most affordable” list. Among the top 10 public institutions for in-state students, for example, some institutions (e.g., College of William and Mary) are highly selective but more expensive, while others (e.g., University of Florida) have more inclusive admissions and lower four-year graduation rates but are more affordable.

For in-state students, the UW compares strongly with the highest-ranked public institutions on measures of affordability. For example, the UW’s cost of attendance for in-state students, after applying need-based aid, is $7,800 per year. The average cost among the top 10 in-state is 50 percent higher, at $11,700. UW students’ average debt at graduation is also lower, by about $2,000, than the average for top-10 institutions. Although the UW’s admit rate is higher and its four-year graduation rate is lower than some other top institutions’, its relative affordability contributes to a strong ranking (#12 in the nation) for in-state students.

The UW’s higher cost for out-of-state students contributes to an out-of-state ranking of #24. For out-of-state students, the UW’s cost of attendance after need-based aid ($31,800) is slightly higher than the average among top-10 institutions ($31,300).

More information about Kiplinger’s methodology is available on their website.

Today, the Washington Monthly released its 2012 national university rankings. Unlike the better known U.S. News & World Report survey, which considers only “widely accepted indicators of excellence [such as] freshman retention and graduation rates and the strength of the faculty”, the Washington Monthly focuses on schools’ “contribution to the public good”. It rates schools in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

The University of Washington-Seattle ranks 8th in the nation among national universities, while UC San Diego, Texas A&M and Stanford take the top three spots. This represents a huge jump for the UW, from 23rd in 2010 to 16th in 2011, and now to 8th place, achieved amidst severe budget cuts. The UW’s notably high score on social mobility (6th in the nation) is a reflection of its strong commitment to financial aid despite rising tuition rates. For full results and a more thorough explanation of the methodology, click here.