DU Jumps 17 spots to #80 in US News & World Report Annual College Rankings

Many people tend to discount university rankings but they are truly meaningful to students and especially parents when there is a premium to attend top-ranked schools and universities. DU received fantastic news today when it was announced that the University of Denver jumped 17 spots from #97 a year ago to #80 among 400 national universities.

The news is even better as DU also became the top-rated university in the state of Colorado. These bragging rights should give the University of Denver an edge as they battle for top-notch students seeking the best possible education along the front range. And, of course, Denver avoids falling out of the Top 100 which would have been a brutal blow for DU.

According to a news release today from the University of Denver, “The rankings are based on performance in six categories. DU’s 17-spot climb is in part due to our rising academic reputation, as measured by our Peer Assessment score, and also because of a greater emphasis on Student Outcomes (retaining and graduating students) than in years past and significant progress in Faculty Resources (including class size and faculty with the highest degrees in their field). Alumni giving also is a factor in our ranking, reflecting the excellence of the University as measured by your annual generosity.”

DU is tied at 80 with Brigham Young University, Stevens Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University and Texas Christian University. Colorado School of Mines came in at 88, CU at 103, and Colorado State University 153.

The news has to be a godsend to Chancellor Jeremy Haefner and his administration as they work to jump-start on-campus learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is, no doubt exciting, positive news in a year where that has been extremely hard to come by across the board.

U.S. News 2021 Rankings

6 thoughts on “DU Jumps 17 spots to #80 in US News & World Report Annual College Rankings”

  1. Good news! I’m the one that left the comment on the unrelated article, so I won’t repeat my thoughts. Just hope that this is part of an upward trend, love to see DU take the top spot for now amongst Colorado “national” universities, and I really hope that DU continue to increase selectivity since that is one of the few criteria that they can directly control. You can’t just snap your figures to make that happen. But it at least has to be a top priority, and should not play second fiddle to vague inclusive excellence goals. Make the university more selective, allow it to rise in the rankings, then you’ll get more applications from high quality applicants from all backgrounds, and greater inclusivity and diversity will happen.

    Though with DU making certain standardized tests optional, how can it demonstrate greater selectivity–class standing of applicants, GPA, I suppose…

    1. Good catch, Anon. Also, it should allow DU to get consideration from under-represented students who qualify for a top-notch education and are considering high level universities. This is great news, all around.

  2. Happy day for us Pios.

    DU hasn’t been this high in years. DU was #83 in 2008, and has been ranked lower than that every year since then, until this year. Can’t remember DU ever beating out Mines for the top spot in Colorado, so that’s nice, too. It is always nice to be ranked ahead of CU at 103 and CSU at 153. Remember that as a liberal arts college, CC is not ranked in this national university list, as it does not offer PhDs.

    Every year, the USNWR ranking methodogies get tweaked a bit, and it looks like DU is finally able to take advantage of the tweaks, instead of getting victimized by them.

    For example, the importance of admissions selectivity continues to decline in importance in the rankings (used to be 20%, now its 7%) , while outcome measures like graduation rate and faculty research dollars have moved up in importance. Also, this year, the percentage of the rankings based on a school;s annual giving rate was reduced from 5% the rankings last year to 3% of the ranking this year. Since DU’s alumni AGR is historically very poor, I imagine that the percentage reduction of importance in the USNWRs also may have helped DU this year, relative to the field.

    One other things to remember is that many new schools have entered the National University rankings in recent years, as new schools offer PHDs, (regional universities often don’t offer PhDs.) while very few leave them, so moving up double digits is very rare. Only 3 schools in the top 100 moved up in double digits this year, and DU was one of them…

  3. Great perspectives, Swami. Selectivity down to 7% in the formula? That’s kind of ridiculous, if you ask me. But whatever, just glad to see DU rising in the rankings. I assume that it was a result of something that the admin did, rather than this being random and a surprise to the admin, as well. Being the top ranked national university in Colorado is a great boon(e) to DU. But when you pass runners in a race, you want to step on the gas and increase the gap, and not let them pass you again in a mile. As nice as the increase is, let’s hope that DU is in no way content with this ranking.

  4. Selectivity is a tough one. Universities certainly want the best and brightest students they can attract – it makes the faculty happy to teach bright, prepared and motivated students, and it creates smarter (and theoretically richer) alumni who will later support their schools.

    So, to get better selectivity, schools compete to see how many applicants they could reject before admission. Ivies are now rejecting 95% of applicant pool, and schools like DU are rejecting half of the applicant pool. But for Harvard (at the top of the elite pool), still gets most of the 5% of their accepted students to enroll there, while school like DU (at the bottom of the elite pool) only can enroll about 10% of the accepted students they admit, since those students all have good options.

    At the end of the day, selectivity tells you little about the kind of students that are produced (outcomes) – only the depth of the admissions funnel.

    So now, since selectivity has reached a saturation point for the top schools, they are now interested in measuring outcomes.

    Of course, all of these ratings are subjective. A great student will do well at any university, and will likely do fine in life. That’s why academics poo-pooh them on one hand in public, but they crave the prestige of them in private, as validation of their hard work.

    The most egregious use of rankings has to do with the elite investment banks and management consultancies recruiting, who use these rankings to restrict their recruiting to small handful of schools. If you want an income 10x the size of everyone else’s, you either need to go to one of those schools to get trained for it, or you need to strike it rich some other way without a top school greasing your pathway.

  5. I’ll take it. DU should try to build on this as much as possible over the next decade. A move into the top 75 over that timeframe is an achievable goal.

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