Which Pennsylvania Universities Appear on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges List?

Carnegie Mellon came in at No. 25 nationally, making it the top school listed in Western Pennsylvania.


If you’re a college student in Pennsylvania, your school might have made the top 100 on a Best College list released annually by U.S. News & World Report.

In the national universities category, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia was placed at No. 8. It was also ranked at No. 8 in 2019, but rose to No. 6 in 2020.

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University was the top school listed in Western Pennsylvania, receiving a national ranking of No. 25 — a position it retained from 2019 and 2020.

Lehigh University in Bethlehem and Villanova University were in a six-way tie at No. 49, and the University of Pittsburgh came in at No. 59. Penn State University in State College placed, too, at No. 63. In 2020, Pitt and Penn State tied at No. 57.

While not quite rounding off the top 100, a few other Pennsylvania schools made the national Best Colleges list as well. Temple University was ranked at No. 103, where it tied with Drexel. In 2020, Drexel rounded out the top 100 with a rank of No. 97, up from its spot at No. 102 in 2019. Temple moved up a rank from last year, when it came in at No. 104.

Duquesne University was positioned at No. 148 this year, falling back a few paces since its rank of No. 132 in 2020. Chatham came in at No. 172, moving up 13 slots since its rank of No. 185 last year, and Robert Morris University placed at No. 187. It was ranked at No. 202 last year, when it tied with Widener University in Chester.

Miscordia University in Dallas (Pennsylvania, not Texas) placed at No. 202; Widener University at No. 213, tied with Wilkes-Barre’s Wilkes University; and Gannon University in Erie and Immaculata University in Chester County tied at No. 227 in this year’s report.

In a separate category for national liberal arts universities, Allegheny College was ranked No. 85. Washington & Jefferson College was ranked No. 92; Grove City was ranked No. 105; Westminster at No. 117; and Saint Vincent College at No. 146.

La Roche University in Pittsburgh was ranked third on the list of regional universities in the north with the most international students. A total of 37 countries are represented within its student body, according to a press release from the university. 

It also ranked 31st among regional universities in the north for 2020 top performers on social mobility. U.S. News & World Report determines social mobility by two factors. The first factor is a measurement of a university’s success at supporting low-income students to achieve equity with students from families with stronger financial backgrounds. Graduation rates of students who received federal Pell grants is another consideration, according to La Roche’s press release.

U.S. News uses 17 metrics to measure the overall academic quality of each institution. Among these metrics are graduation and retention rates, social mobility, graduation rate performance, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources for 2020-2021 academic year, student selectivity for the fall 2020 entering class, financial resources per student, average alumni giving and graduate indebtedness. Class size and student services are also considered in the rankings, painting a holistic picture of each university.

The media company has been compiling these lists since 1983, making this year’s report the 37th of its kind. It ranked a total of 1,466 colleges nationwide, and said more than 1,850 schools responded to its survey. The goal, according to the report, is to address families who may be grappling with financial unease as the pandemic chugs slowly along. Concerns regarding college costs, student loans and the time it takes to see a return on investment are balanced with academic factors, campus culture, location, safety and more. These are all aspects that U.S. News takes into account while compiling its list. 

The pandemic did impact the survey’s methodology, though; last year marked the first-time inclusion of “test-blind” schools, or institutions that don’t factor standardized test scores into admissions decisions. This change came as COVID-19 facilitated drastic changes to testing policy, availability and safety. 

Though the report says it has tweaked the way ACT and SAT scores are reflected in the 2022 rankings rubric, much of the data collected for the latest rankings stem from testing periods prior to widespread pandemic distributions in the U.S.

The national top 10 list saw little variation this year, with mostly Ivy Leagues filling the highest slots. Princeton University in New Jersey is again No. 1, retaining its title from last year, and Columbia University in New York, Harvard University in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are tied at No. 2. Columbia moved up one spot from No. 3 last year, while MIT improved from a tie at No. 4. Yale University in Connecticut moved down from a tie at No. 4 last year to No. 5 for 2022.

California’s Stanford University and the University of Chicago remain tied at No. 6. The University of Pennsylvania remained at No. 8, and four colleges were tied at No. 9: California Institute of Technology, Duke University in North Carolina, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and Northwestern University in Illinois. Duke was the only new school to break into the top 10, moving up from No. 12 in last year’s rankings.

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