The University of Georgia moved up three spots to No. 18 in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Public Universities, released Tuesday.
“I am pleased that the University of Georgia continues to be recognized as one of the very best public research universities in the nation,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I want to thank our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters for this achievement. UGA’s upward trajectory is a testament — above all else — to their hard work and dedication to excellence.”
Outstanding performance on key measures of student success contributed to the university’s strong position in the national rankings: UGA’s first-year retention rate increased from 94 percent to a record 95 percent during the rating period, and its six-year graduation rate remained at an all-time high of 85 percent.
Increases in student selectivity measures also led to the top 20 ranking. UGA’s acceptance rate decreased from 56 percent to 53 percent during the rating period; the percentage of students in the top 10 percent of their high school class increased from 52 percent to 53 percent, and test scores for the 25th-75th SAT/ACT percentile increased as well.
These measures reflect the continuing rise in the quality of the student body at UGA as well as a steady increase in the number of applications for admission. This fall marked the fourth consecutive year in which the incoming class of first-year students set a record for academic quality, and applications for fall admission reached an all-time high this year at nearly 23,000, surpassing last year’s record total.
“It’s no surprise that demand for a UGA education continues to surge,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our long tradition of excellence and bold new academic initiatives have created an unparalleled learning environment that fosters the highest levels of student success.”
UGA’s top ranking also benefited from an improved academic peer assessment rating, which measures how a university is regarded by administrators at peer institutions. The reputational score is determined by surveying presidents, provosts and deans of admissions, or officials in equivalent positions, at institutions in the same ranking category.
UGA has made national headlines in recent years for major faculty hiring initiatives and innovations in undergraduate education. This fall, UGA became the nation’s largest public university to ensure that all undergraduate students benefit from hands-on learning experiences-such as internships, research projects or specialized study abroad opportunities-that prepare them for success after graduation. In addition to implementing its experiential learning initiative, the university also recently implemented a small class size initiative that has brought more than 50 new faculty members to campus to create more than 300 additional course sections in high-demand subjects.
Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav has played an important role in implementing these and other academic initiatives since he assumed his position in February 2015. “The university has been committed for many years to enhancing the learning environment for students, and new initiatives in advising and experiential learning, along with more classes, are elevating undergraduate education to new heights,” said Shrivastav. “The higher education community has taken note of our pioneering spirit and our strong commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.”
The state of Georgia is one of only three in the country with two institutions — Georgia Institute of Technology and UGA — listed among the top 20 public universities. In addition, UGA was one of only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference, along with the University of Florida, to rank in the top 20 among publics.
UGA recently was ranked No. 17 on the Forbes “Top 25 Public Colleges 2016” list and consistently ranks as one of the nation’s best values in public higher education. Kiplinger’s ranked UGA at No. 12 on its 2016 list of the 100 best values among public colleges and universities, and The New York Times ranked UGA at No. 10 among public universities doing the most for low-income students in its 2015 College Access Index.