Head of the class

UT Austin hooks highest U.S. News & World Report ranking in more than 30 years

UT Austin hooks highest U.S. News & World Report ranking in 30 years

The University of Texas at Austin is rising in the ranks of a prestigious national report. U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Best Colleges, released September 14, shows UT Austin climbing significantly among the best national universities. 

The trusted report compared more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission). 

"The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote," said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer, in a release. "Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them."

Now, on to the rankings. UT Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up a significant six spots from 2020. It's also the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. (Hook 'em!) Among the country's public universities, UT Austin climbed four spots from the previous year, landing at No. 13. 

While UT Austin remains the top public school in Texas, the title of best university in Texas once again goes to Rice. The prestigious Houston school ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year. 

U.S. News also ranked the best undergraduate business, computer science, and engineering programs this year, putting UT Austin at the head of the class. The McCombs School of Business ranks fifth in the nation, while UT Computer Science and the Cockrell School of Engineering each rank 11th nationwide. Numerous programs within each school earn recognition among the country's best.  

“These rankings are an acknowledgment of the hard work and brilliance of so many members of Longhorn Nation — students, faculty and staff — and they are also a product of the profound investments the university has made in recent years in academic excellence,” said Jay Hartzell, UT Austin interim president, in a release. “I’m proud to see the progress we’ve made, but I also know that this extraordinary university has the potential to climb even higher and accomplish even more — as far as I’m concerned, we’re just getting started.”

As for Texas' other top schools, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University and Texas Christian University rank No. 76 and No. 80, respectively.