Catholic colleges get good marks in regional rankings of top schools

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the 2008 list of the nation’s best colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, Catholic colleges and universities were once again at the top in regional lists for the North and Midwest but did not have a significant representation in the overall national ranking.

In the national ranking, three Catholic colleges made the top 50; they were the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (19th), Georgetown University in Washington (23rd) and Boston College (35th). These three colleges frequently appear in the top 50 national ranking. Last year Notre Dame was 20th, Georgetown was again 23rd and Boston ranked 34th.

Princeton University in New Jersey was given the top spot for best national universities, followed by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in second place and Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in third. Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., once again topped the list of national liberal arts schools.

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., was in 33rd place and, as in previous years, was the only Catholic college among the top 50 of the nation’s liberal arts colleges. Last year it ranked 32nd.

The 2008 college rankings, published by U.S. News & World Report, were available at newsstands Aug. 20. The rankings were based on a wide range of factors used by the magazine in its more than 20 years of conducting this survey: peer assessment, academic reputation, retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

Catholic colleges and universities fared best in the “Universities — Master’s” category which ranks schools with undergraduate and master’s programs but few, if any, doctoral programs.

In this category, divided by region, Villanova University in Pennsylvania topped the list in the North and Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., placed first in the Midwest. These schools were also in the No. 1 slot last year.

Other schools making it to the top 15 in the North included three tied for second place: Providence College in Rhode Island, Loyola College in Maryland in Baltimore and Fairfield University in Connecticut. Also in top places were: St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia (eighth) and the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania (10th). Several other Catholic colleges placed in the top 30.

In the Midwest, in addition to Creighton, ranking Catholic schools included Xavier University in Cincinnati (second), John Carroll University in Cleveland (seventh) and the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. (14th).

Seven of the top 15 ranked regional universities in the West are Catholic; they are: Santa Clara University in California (second), Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. (third), Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (fourth), the University of Portland in Oregon (fifth), Seattle University (sixth), St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga (11th) and the University of Dallas (15th).

Two Catholic schools made the top 15 in the South: Loyola University in New Orleans (sixth) and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. (11th).

In the category ranking medical schools for research, Georgetown University’s School of Medicine made the top 50, coming in 44th. Among the nation’s top 50 business schools were Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (25th) and Boston College’s Carroll School of Management (39th).

U.S. News said its rankings system “rests on two pillars. It relies on quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it’s based on our nonpartisan view of what matters in education.”

The magazine said some schools made the rankings for the first time this year. It added that in determining rankings, one tool it has used for more than 20 years is the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Carnegie Classifications. Those classifications were revised in 2006; it was the first revision in years.

Earlier this summer, members of the Annapolis Group, a group representing U.S. liberal arts colleges, including some Catholic colleges, met to discuss alternatives to the commercial college rankings presented annually by U.S. News & World Report and expressed their intent not to participate in the magazine’s annual survey.



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