How NC colleges ranked in this year’s U.S. News standings

A controversy erupted at Duke University over an email that advised Chinese students to avoid speaking their native language at a campus building.
A controversy erupted at Duke University over an email that advised Chinese students to avoid speaking their native language at a campus building. N&O file photo

North Carolina’s universities continue to make a strong showing in the annual college ranking from the U.S. News & World Report.

The “Best Colleges” ranking was released Monday. It can be found at www.usnews.com/best-colleges

The magazine changed its methodology this year, adding measures such as how well colleges serve low-income students. It put greater emphasis on student outcomes and less weight on average ACT and SAT scores. It dropped the acceptance rate measure, which had rewarded schools that admit the smallest percentage of applicants.

The changes may have been a response to criticisms that the ranking focused too much on elite schools.

Winston-Salem State University, for several years, has declined to fill out surveys that U.S. News uses to compile its rankings. In a letter emailed last week to faculty and staff, Chancellor Elwood Robinson wrote: “We believe the rankings do not measure the metrics we feel are important: the number of low-income students admitted and graduated, the low cost of tuition, and the high employment outcomes after graduation.”

Even with some colleges not participating, the U.S. News ranking has been a widely consulted resource for families and students shopping for colleges. It breaks down schools into categories such as national universities, national liberal arts colleges and regional universities and colleges. The magazine also produces ratings in specialty areas such as business and engineering.

For the eighth year in a row, Princeton University has captured the top spot among national universities. Here’s how North Carolina colleges and universities stacked up.

In the category of national universities:

Duke University, at eighth, moved up one spot from last year, while Wake Forest University placed 27th and UNC-Chapel Hill was 30th on the list. N.C. State University ranked 80th, while UNC Charlotte and East Carolina tied for 194th and UNC Greensboro was 201st. Among public universities only, UNC was tied with UC-Santa Barbara for fifth, and NCSU was tied with three others for 32nd.

“Our students, faculty and staff’s commitment to excellence is evident in Carolina’s placement among the top five public universities for the 18th consecutive year,” UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement.

In the category of national liberal arts colleges:

Davidson College ranked 10th. Salem College (131st), UNC Asheville and Warren Wilson College (tied at 143rd), Meredith College (162nd) and Guilford College (168th) made the list.

In the category of regional universities in the South:

These schools offer undergraduate and master’s degrees, but few Ph.D. programs.

Elon University was ranked No. 1 in the South. Also ranked: Appalachian State University (8th), UNC Wilmington (15th), Queens University of Charlotte (18th), Campbell University (30th), Western Carolina University (34th), Wingate University (52nd), N.C. Central University (64th), Lenoir-Rhyne University and Elizabeth City State University (tied for 71st), Pfeiffer University (78th), Methodist University (87th), Fayetteville State University and Montreat College (tied for 95th) and UNC Pembroke (102nd).

In the category of regional colleges in the South:

These schools serve primarily undergraduate students.

High Point University was first in the South. Also ranked: Catawba College (4th), Barton College (5th), Belmont Abbey College (18th), Greensboro College (19th), Mars Hill University (22nd), University of Mount Olive (25th), Lees-McRae College (27th), Bennett College (34th), N.C. Wesleyan College (37th), Chowan University (50th), and St. Augustine’s University (61st).