DU Tumbles in Latest US News Rankings

US News released their annual rankings and DU fell from last year’s #105 ranking to #124 in the recently released National Universities rankings. As recently as 2020, Denver jumped 17 places to rank 80th among national universities. Denver fell back to #93 two years ago and tumbled 12 more places last year and 19 more slots this year. Tuition and fees were listed at $59,340 and $32,618 after the cost of student aid. Denver was listed at #72 at Best Value School.

The annual rankings are getting more subjective as schools ditch standardized testing requirements and, in some cases, have exited reporting completely to ranking services (i.e., Colorado College). The drop is even more surprising as DU places greater emphasis on research and admits incoming freshmen with a high school GPA average of 3.8. While the emphasis on the rankings has waned in recent years, many prospective parents and students still use the US News rankings to cost-justify a higher education selection. Ideally, DU would like to tout a Top 100 ranking as that is often viewed as a cutoff line for a number of families and students seeking an elite education. DU administrators and admissions would also value an entrance back into the top 100 to justify the relatively small class sizes and cost of tuition.

A recent focus has been on elevating engineering but DU was ranked a disappointing #167 in that category. Denver also finished #165 in economics,  #170 for veterans, and #342 in social mobility despite 26% minority enrollment after significant efforts to support first-generation students and diversity on campus. (The Daniels College of Business ranks 103rd for Best Undergraduate Business Program based on survey results by deans and senior faculty members at each of the 523 undergraduate business programs.) In a University news release, the University reported, “The 2024 rankings are a snapshot of data collected from the recent past, 2018 through 2022.” Denver may show greater improvement with more current figures over the next several years but only time will tell.

The DU press release added the following:

“This year, U.S. News made significant changes to the formula used for the rankings by eliminating several factors, modifying the emphasis placed on others, and adding several new criteria. The modified ranking model places less emphasis on resources going into the student and faculty educational process and instead places a larger emphasis on output measures, which look at the results of the educational process. The changes made in the 2024 rankings tend to benefit larger state schools or those with significant endowments because of the addition of first-generation student graduation rates and the weights for social mobility and the elimination of class size and percentage of faculty with a terminal degree.”

US News continues to change its metrics and weights over the years so the rankings have continued to be a moving target. Still, the #124 ranking has to be a disappointment within DU and may, potentially, provide a knock-on effect on admissions. The University of Colorado came in at #105, Colorado State #151, Colorado School of Mines jumped up 53 spots to #36 and Colorado College which declined to submit data to US News still finished at #29 in the Liberal Arts Colleges category.

For a more positive picture of the University of Denver, The Princeton Review was much less harsh and focused on a positive experience reported by students who attended the University.

Photo courtesy of the University of Denver

4 thoughts on “DU Tumbles in Latest US News Rankings”

  1. I’m sure this event is causing some indigestion at University & Evans as it should. As coach Bill Parcells once put it so eloquently, “you are what your record says you are.”

    #124 in a country with 4,500 total higher education institutions is still top 3% of the pyramid, but relative to our perceptual peer schools, this USNWR slide is deeply concerning.

    Perhaps the depth of this slide will shock the powers that be that renewed attention to the academic enterprise needs to be priority #1, rather than the last 20 years of institutional priority on social engineering, which followed on the heels of the 2005 Princeton Review rankings where DU was tagged as one of the least diverse schools in the country.

  2. Agree with Puck Swami. More focus on a strong academic program and controlling tuition costs. If you do that instead of trying to be as woke as possible, the rankings will take care of themselves.

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