Duke ranked No. 7 in the 2023-24 edition of the U.S. News and World Report Best National University rankings, rising three spots from its No. 10 ranking last year.
Duke is tied with the California Institute of Technology in this year’s edition. Princeton University ranked first for the 13th year running, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University and Yale University.
The University’s ranking boost comes as U.S. News revamped its ranking methodology. In this year’s edition, factors such as alumni giving rates, percentage of faculty with a terminal degree, class sizes and admitted student class rank have been eliminated from the ranking score. Instead, U.S. News now places “increased weighting [to] a school’s success in graduating students from different backgrounds.”
The new ranking methodology comes on the heels of universities withdrawing from U.S. News’ law and medical school rankings. In December 2022, Duke’s School of Law withdrew from U.S. News’ law school rankings, following the suit of several other top 14 law schools. Kerry Abrams, dean of the law school, cited serious concerns about “design and influence of these rankings.”
Duke’s School of Medicine withdrew in January 2023, with school leadership citing issues with the “value and validity of the rankings.”
Some critics of rankings hoped that universities would withdraw from the undergraduate versions. Not many did, however. This year, 99 out of the top 100-ranked universities provided data to U.S. News. The New York Times reported that of universities in which at least one professional school withdrew from the rankings, few, including Duke, were willing to comment on their decision to partake in undergraduate rankings.
This year, Duke ranks just behind the University of Pennsylvania, which is slated in at No. 6. Behind Duke are Brown University, Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University, tied for No. 9. Last year, Duke was tied with Northwestern and Johns Hopkins outranked Duke at seventh place. Brown, on the other hand, entered the top 10 for the first time since the 1998-99 edition.
This is Duke’s highest ranking since 2014. In the 2021-22 edition of the rankings, Duke was ranked ninth, following a dip to 12th in the 2020-21 edition. In the 2019-20 rankings, Duke was No. 10. In 2018, Duke was No. 9, and from 2015-2018, the University ranked eighth.
Much of the structure of the rest of the top 20 schools has changed. Behind Duke are Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, all tied for No. 12. This year is Columbia’s second consecutive year outside the top 10. Last year, Columbia dropped 16 spots after one of its math professors found discrepancies in data that was provided to U.S. News, and the university admitted to providing incorrect information. UChicago also leaves the top 10 for the first time since 2006-07, and Dartmouth College has the lowest ranking in its history at No. 18.
Public universities have also risen in this year’s rankings. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is ranked No. 22 this year, which marks an increase of 7 spots. The University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, which are now tied at No. 15, rank inside the top 20 for the first time in over 20 years.
Wake Forest University dropped 18 spots to No. 47 and N.C. State rose 12 spots to No. 60.
In the Best National Universities ranking, U.S. News rates colleges and universities that “offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and Ph.D. programs.” Nearly 1,500 universities were evaluated, and 439 made the list this year.
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Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.