Duke jumped four spots in this year's U.S. News & World Report ranking to share fourth place with four other universities. Princeton University pulled the top spot, followed by Harvard and Yale universities tied at second--all maintaining their spots.
Up from No. 8 last year, Duke shares its position with the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania. Dartmouth College, Columbia University and Northwestern University round out the top 10.
Provost Peter Lange said he was happy with the magazine's recognition of the University.
"We are pleased to learn that the quality of the undergraduate experience that Duke students receive has once again been ranked by U.S. News & World Report's annual survey as being among the very best in the nation," he said in a statement. "It is gratifying to have the exceptional quality of our faculty, programs and students so recognized."
The Pratt School of Engineering also moved up two spots in the rankings for engineering programs to 24 in a three-way tie with the University of California at San Diego and the University of Maryland at College Park. Ranking top in the category was MIT. In engineering specialties, Duke made it to the top five only in biomedical engineering at second.
The magazine also added several new categories this year. In "Great Schools at Great Prices," the University ranked 13th, largely because of its financial aid program. The University placed fifth in "First-year experiences," which fell under a new section of rankings called "Programs that really work." It also placed 21st in study abroad and 10th in writing in the disciplines.
While Princeton, Harvard, Yale and CalTech stayed put in the top four positions, MIT, Stanford and Penn all climbed a spot from last year's fifth. Duke made the biggest jump of the group.
The rankings, released each year in mid-September, annually draw criticism for their methodology, which statistically ranks universities in 18 categories, including selectivity, graduation rate and student-to-faculty ratio. The weightiest of the categories--peer assessment from top administrators at other universities--is the only one that is qualitative. Still, the ratings are the most anticipated and widely read by college-bound high school students.
"As much as we appreciate Duke's high ranking, we continue to believe that magazine surveys should not be the basis on which students and their families determine where to go to college," Lange wrote in a statement. "Since we believe the undergraduate educational experience our students enjoy is among the best that can be found anywhere, we anticipate that Duke will continue to be the first choice of many of the nation's most outstanding students."
Duke was the top-ranked school in the state of North Carolina--Wake Forest University tied for 25th and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked 28th.
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