News & Politics

How Did Area Colleges Stack Up in U.S. News Rankings?

For those who still rely on the magazine's college rankings, here's how local universities fared.

Photograph courtesy Johns Hopkins University.

The latest edition of U.S. News and World Report’s increasingly criticized but still frequently touted (at least by nervous parents and high school guidance counselors) list of the nation’s best universities dropped yesterday, and several local schools made an impressive showing.

Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, was ranked No. 12, tied with Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Among schools closer to or actually in DC, Georgetown landed at No. 20, while the University of Virginia was No. 23. (Also good enough to be the second-highest ranked public school on the list of the top 200 universities.)
Other local schools making the cut are:
  • College of William and Mary, No. 32
  • George Washington University, No. 52
  • University of Maryland, No. 62
  • Virginia Tech, No. 69
  • American University, No. 75
  • Howard University, No. 142
The placement of a couple of these schools is worth noting. George Washington University is back on the list, after getting bounced from last year’s edition after administrators at the Foggy Bottom school admitted they inflated the percentage of incoming freshmen who finished in the top tenth of their high school classes. That statistic makes up six percent of the overall scoring U.S. News uses to rank colleges, and GW fudged it for more than a decade.
As for Howard University, the historically black college in Northwest DC has been tumbling down the U.S. News chart for several years. Just four years ago, it was No. 96, but Howard has faced several challenges lately. Enrollment is down, more than 50 staff members were laid off earlier this year, and Howard University Hospital forced its employees to take 12 furlough days this summer. Additionally, NBC4 reports, the school’s bond rating is in danger of being downgraded.
U.S. News‘ college rankings are weighed most heavily toward admissions selectivity, student retention, and graduation rates, and does not change much at the top from year to year. Princeton, Harvard, and Yale took the top three spots in the 2014 rankings. (Last year, Princeton and Harvard tied for first, and Yale was No. 3.)
Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.