Carolina Holds No. 5 Spot In U.S. News Rankings

For the 10th consecutive year, Carolina ranks fifth among the nation’s best public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

UNC is 30th when considered with private schools. It again was determined to be the best value among public universities.

The rankings appear in the 2011 “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook and are posted at the magazine’s website.

Also unchanged from last year, the University of California-Berkeley ranked first among public universities, followed by UCLA and Virginia (tied for second) and Michigan (fourth). Among national public and private universities, Carolina ranked 30th. Other top publics ranked overall between 22nd (Berkeley) and 29th (Michigan). Last year, UNC tied for 28th overall with Tufts and Wake Forest. Overall scores of all five top publics remained identical to last year, ranging from 76 to 70.

U.S. News rankings reflect a formula using opinion survey responses about academic quality from peer campus presidents, provosts or admissions directors. This year for the first time, the magazine asked high school guidance counselors to participate. Objective data cover up to 16 indicators of academic quality, including graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, class size, selectivity and financial resources.

Other U.S. News rankings assess affordability, undergraduate business programs, views of high school guidance counselors and innovative programs. Those UNC results included the following:

  • First among public universities for the sixth consecutive year and 14th overall in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student receiving average need-based financial aid in 2009-10.
  • Fourth among publics for “least debt” and 10th overall – up from 16th and 24th, respectively. Average student debt: $14,262 for UNC’s class of 2009; 28 percent of graduating seniors borrowed, down from 32 percent the prior year.
  • A 97 percent average first-year retention rate, the same as last year.
  • An 87 percent average six-year graduation rate. (UNC’s four-year rate is about 76 percent.)
  • 12 percent of course sections enrolled 50 or more students, the best mark among all five top publics for the third straight year. Thirty-nine percent of UNC’s course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students, down from 44 percent last year.
  • Tied for 22nd (with seven other schools) on an academic reputation rating by high school guidance counselors with a score of 4.4 on a 5.0 scale. UNC ranked second, with Georgia Tech, among national public universities in this new ranking.
  • 47th in faculty resources, down from 35th last year and on par with a 50th rankings the previous two years. Among top publics, Berkeley was 33rd, UCLA 41st, UVA 37th and Michigan 70th. This category accounts for 20 percent of the overall ranking. It measures undergraduate class size, two academic years (2008-09 and 2009-10) of average total faculty compensation (salary and benefits) based on indexes weighted for regional differences, student-faculty ratio, and the percentage of faculty who are full time and earned their field’s highest degree.
  • Tied for seventh, with Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon, for undergraduate business programs. Kenan-Flagler Business School’s management specialty ranked third and its marketing specialty ranked fifth.
  • Listed among outstanding undergraduate programs with “A Strong Focus on Student Success.” Carolina was cited for exemplary first-year experience (seminars and other programs bringing small groups of students together with faculty and staff), undergraduate research/creative projects, service-learning and study abroad.

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