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2015 Best Colleges Announced by U.S. News & World Report
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2015 Best Colleges Announced by U.S. News & World Report

Summary: U.S. News & World Report has published the 30th edition of the Best Colleges rankings, adding new features such as crime safety reports and federal loan information.

The 30th edition of the Best Colleges rankings has been released by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings measure the schools by their academic excellence. Princeton claimed the Number 1 spot, as it did last year, in the Best National Universities category. The Number 1 school in the Liberal Arts Colleges category was Williams College, which will make this year the twelfth year the school has claimed the top spot. University of California—Berkeley was ranked as the Top Public School among National Universities.


The 2015 edition of Best Colleges covered approximately 1,800 schools in the United States. The results will no doubt be a helpful guide as students and their parents decide on a school for their undergraduate degrees.

The 1,800 schools are ranked on up to sixteen measures of academic success. These include outcome-related measures, such as graduation rates and retention rates, which account for roughly one-third of the rankings. The outcome-related measures are also the most heavily weighted factors in the calculations.

The categories are based upon the 2010 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications, which has been used by U.S. News for every edition. These categories are accepted for classifying schools by many higher education professionals.

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For the first time, U.S. News has included campus crime and security information that the schools reported to the U.S. Department of Education. This data did not affect a college’s ranking, but was available on the profile page of each school.

The list also included a list of financial resources so that families can grasp the cost of a college degree. The Best Value Schools list ranks colleges according to academic excellence and affordability. Harvard University and Amherst College were top schools in this category last year, and claimed the top spot again for 2015. A list was also created of schools whose graduates had the most and least debt after they earned their degrees.

Another first, the list this year featured three-year federal loan default rates on each school’s profile page. This information was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. This demonstrates how graduates handle their loan payments, and the U.S. News 529 finder allows parents and students to compare and research tax-advantaged college savings plans to determine which is best for their needs.

Anita Narayan, education editor, said, “How to plan and pay for college is a challenge parents around the country face each year. Our paying for college resources and tips are designed to help families more easily navigate this complex process, from saving for college and understanding financial aid options to paying off student loans.”

Web-exclusive rankings are also included in the 2015 edition, such as Campus Ethnic Diversity, Economic Diversity (for top-ranked schools) and Best Colleges for Veterans. If a student has a certain career path in mind, he or she can consult the Best Undergraduate Business Programs and Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.

Editor and chief content officer Bryan Kelly noted “Our goal for the past thirty years has been to provide families with the most comprehensive information on colleges to help them make one of life’s most important—and often costly—decisions.”

The U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges Rankings are:

Best National Universities

1. Princeton University (NJ)

2. Harvard University (MA)

3. Yale University (CT)

4. Columbia University (NY)

4. Stanford University (CA)

4. University of Chicago (IL)

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

8. Duke University (NC)

8. University of Pennsylvania

10. California Institute of Technology

Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Williams College (MA)

2. Amherst College (MA)

3. Swarthmore College (PA)

4. Wellesley College (MA)

5. Bowdoin College (ME)

5. Pomona College (CA)

7. Middlebury College (VT)

8. Carleton College (MN)

8. Claremont McKenna College (CA)

8. Haverford College (PA)

Best Public Schools

National Universities

1. University of California–Berkeley

2. University of California–Los Angeles

2. University of Virginia

4. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

5. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

Liberal Arts Colleges

1. United States Naval Academy (MD)

2. United States Military Academy (NY)

3. United States Air Force Academy (CO)

4. Virginia Military Institute

5. New College of Florida

Best Value Schools

National Universities

1. Harvard University (MA)

2. Princeton University (NJ)

3. Yale University (CT)

4. Stanford University (CA)

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Liberal Arts Colleges

1. Amherst College (MA)

2. Williams College (MA)

3. Pomona College (CA)

4. Wellesley College (MA)

5. Soka University of America (CA)

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