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Princeton keeps No. 1 U.S. News Ranking for twelfth consecutive year

Nassau Hall new pic
Abby de Riel / The Daily Princetonian

For the twelfth year in a row, Princeton ranks No. 1 in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best National University rankings. Massachusetts Institute of Technology was ranked second, while Harvard, Yale, and Stanford tied for third. Columbia University dropped to the 18th spot after claiming the second spot last year. 

Princeton was also ranked No. 2 in Best Value Schools, after Harvard. In Best Undergraduate Teaching, the University was ranked third, tied with Rice University. In this category, Elon University and Brown University were ranked first and second, respectively. 


U.S. News and World Report bases rankings on the following categories: Graduation and Retention Rates, Social Mobility, Graduation Rate Performance, Undergraduate Academic Reputation, Faculty Resources for the 2021-2022 year, Student Selectivity for the Fall 2021 Entering Class, Financial Resources per Student, Average Alumni Giving Rate, and Graduate Indebtedness. 

To create the Best National University rankings, U.S. News and World Report uses 18 sets of statistics, from Pell Grant graduation rates to faculty compensation. These statistics are developed into individual rankings in 10 distinct categories, and then the U.S. News and World Report uses a formula to determine their final rankings. 

This formula, however, has come under recent scrutiny. Dr. Michael Thaddeus of Columbia University exposed his own university in a blog post earlier this year, which found that Columbia had exaggerated its performance on a variety of metrics to inflate its evaluation. These inaccuracies and the resulting controversy may be part of the reason for Columbia’s dramatic drop in the rankings.

U.S. News and World Report defines 443 universities as “National Universities,” and these schools are exclusively ranked against each other. In the 13 publicly available category lists on the Princeton University Rankings page, Princeton ranks in the top 10 in 10 categories (including Best Colleges for Veterans and First-Year Experiences). It is ranked in the top seven percent of all publicly available categories but one: Princeton is ranked 186th in Social Mobility, around the 58th percentile.

Laura Robertson is a Staff News Writer for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at