UNC Ranked No. 5 for 15th Year in a Row by U.S. News

For a decade and a half — since before some of Carolina’s current students had even started kindergarten — UNC has held steady in fifth place among the nation’s best public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In its annual rankings released Wednesday, the order for the top five public universities in the magazine’s 2016 edition of America’s Best Colleges guidebook remained virtually unchanged: University of California-Berkeley was first, followed by University of California-Los Angeles, University of Virginia, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and UNC.

“Being ranked as a top-five national public university by U.S. News and World Report for 15 consecutive years is a milestone that underscores the ongoing commitment to excellence shared by our students, faculty and staff,’’ said UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Carolina’s high academic national rankings across the board exemplify its leadership in research, scholarship, public service and access and affordability, all of which are at the heart of what a great public university brings to our nation.”

U.S. News ranked Carolina 30th overall — also the same as last year — among national public and private universities, tied with Boston College. Among the other top publics in those broader rankings, Berkeley was 20th, UCLA 23rd, Virginia 26th and Michigan 29th.

Other U.S. News rankings  for UNC included:

  • First among national public universities for the 11th consecutive year and 13th overall (a four-spot jump from last year) in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of need-based financial aid in 2014-2015. Forty-one percent of UNC undergraduates received need-based aid in 2014. Carolina meets 100 percent of the documented need of undergraduates qualifying for need-based aid who apply on time.
  • Eighth among publics and 15th overall for least debt, with 41 percent of students graduating with debt and an average amount of $18,945.
  • A 97 percent average first-year retention rate for the seventh consecutive year.
  • A 90 percent average six-year graduation rate, 2 percentage points better than U.S. News predicted.
  • Fifteen percent of course sections enrolled 50 or more students, a two-point increase from the last two years. This remains the lowest rate among the other top publics for the eighth year in a row. Holding steady from last year, 39 percent of UNC’s course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students. Berkeley led the top publics at 59 percent.
  • Fifth among the top publics and 86th overall in faculty resources. UNC was 68th the last two years, 70th three years ago, 59th four years ago and 47th five years ago. This category measures undergraduate class size; two academic years (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) of average total faculty compensation (salary and benefits) based on indexes weighted for regional differences; student-faculty ratio; and percentage of faculty who are full time and earned their field’s highest degree.
  • Tied for second among publics and 22nd overall in high school counselors’ picks the same as last year.
  • Seventh overall and tied for fourth among publics in best undergraduate business programs. Among specialty areas, Kenan-Flagler Business School ranked fifth in management.
  • Fourth among publics and tied for 24th overall in best colleges for veterans, a reflection of Carolina’s growing support programs for military students, including UNC Core, the Green Zone, the Veterans Resource Program and the Warrior Scholar program.

The full rankings can be seen at

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