U.S. News & World Report assessed more than 1,600 four-year colleges and universities across the country, and classified 311 (190 public, 104 private, and seven for-profit) as "National Universities".
This is the 35th year that U.S. News has issued these "Best College" ranks.
But two public institutions showed the most improvement, climbing at least a dozen spots from their ranking previous year. The other public universities are Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue and Rutgers.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said he wants to see five Texas universities among the nation's top 10 public schools.
U.S. News deemed 50 institutions as "Best Colleges for Veterans", with Misericordia getting highest local honors at 23rd.
UC San Diego was ranked as the 42nd best national university, and ninth-best public school.
The Haslam College of Business saw improvement by climbing to No. 27 among public universities and No. 45 in the country.More news: Conte underlines Kante's importance to team
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"UCLA takes great pride in the excellent academic achievements of our faculty and students, and I am grateful that their high level of accomplishment is reflected in the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking", UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.
Xavier University came out on top among peer institutions, ranking fifth among regional universities in the Midwest. That represents a two-spot climb for RU.
Baylor's undergraduate engineering program, which now offers a Ph.D. program, was ranked No. 110. This is the 11th year in a row for Northwestern to be in the top 10. In the 2017 rankings, UC Berkeley and USC were ranked No. 20 and No. 23, respectively.
To even be considered for the list, universities have to have undergraduate and graduate programs.
Also, CU Boulder's undergraduate engineering program at the College of Engineering and Applied Science comes in at 16th among public institutions whose highest degree is a doctorate, or 30th overall. The ranking is then a mix of freshmen retention and graduation rates, class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios, scores on admissions tests and ratings by high school counselors and fellow college presidents, provosts and deans.
According to US News and World Report, its ranking system rests on two pillars, using quantitative and qualitative statistical measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality.