University of California campuses earn extraordinary marks as some of the best colleges in the country, according to Forbes and Washington Monthly in recently released rankings.
The two rankings used different methodologies but came to similar conclusions: The UC system and its nine undergraduate campuses deliver an excellent education with benefits that last a lifetime.
Forbes rankings by campus
|UC San Diego||3||21|
|UC Santa Barbara||5||24|
|UC Santa Cruz||39||92|
Forbes’ 2023 America’s Top Colleges list, which showcases 500 of the finest U.S. colleges, ranked four UC campuses among its top 25 of all colleges in the country, public or private, alongside Ivy League schools like Princeton and Harvard. Eight of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses featured in its top 100. It based its analysis on student success data, return on investment and alumni influence.
All nine UC undergraduate campuses made Forbes’ top 100 of all public schools in the country. A Forbes column explored why California has such remarkable public colleges, highlighting the UC system’s unique ability to enroll and matriculate low-income students receiving Pell Grants at a high rate compared to peer institutions.
Washington Monthly rankings by campus
|UC San Diego||7||20|
|UC Santa Barbara||38||67|
|UC Santa Cruz||90||133|
In the newest edition of Washington Monthly’s National University Rankings, the magazine once again evaluated colleges in the United States based on their contributions to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service. Four UCs made the top 25 of all colleges, public or private, with all nine undergraduate campuses in the top 140.
Of the 1,487 colleges and universities reviewed by Washington Monthly, UC Merced did extraordinarily well, ranked as the 56th best school in the country, and the 27th best public university. This continues UC Merced’s march up the rankings since its founding in 2005, with a recent Wall Street Journal ranking it as the 15th best public school in the country, yet another high-water mark.
Each ranking provides details on their methodology. For Forbes, the primary metrics are based on alumni salary (20 percent), student debt (15 percent), graduation rate (15 percent), leadership and entrepreneurial success among alums (15 percent), return on investment (15 percent), retention rate (10 percent) and academic success (10 percent).
Washington Monthly looks at social mobility based on overall graduation rates, graduation rates for low-income Pell Grant students, and earnings after graduation, among other measures. It also produces a research score based on measures including the portion of students that go on to earn science and engineering Ph.D.s, as well as faculty receiving prestigious awards and induction into national academies. Community service takes into account the number of graduates who go on to serve in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps.
The University of California has earned high marks in a number of other rankings released this year, including Money and The Princeton Review. Eight of the nine UC undergraduate campuses are among the Association of American Universities, an elite group of universities that receive the majority of competitively awarded federal research funding. The university system as a whole, including UC San Francisco, a graduate-only institution, has earned 71 Nobel Prizes. Learn more about the University of California at universityofcalifornia.edu.