UCSB, Cal Poly, CLU all crack top 10 on U.S. News lists
The tri-county region is home to one of the 10 best public universities in the nation and two of the 10 best regional universities in the West, at least according to the new U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings.
UC Santa Barbara was seventh among public universities on the 2022 list — one of six University of California campuses among the top 10 — and No. 32 among all U.S. colleges and universities on the U.S. News list, which was released Sept. 12.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ranked second among Western regional universities, which includes universities that do not offer doctoral programs, and California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks was sixth on the same list.
UCSB has ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities for the past seven consecutive years, while Cal Poly has topped the list of non-doctoral Western universities for 30 straight years.
UCSB’s standout program is its engineering department, which ranked No. 33 among all undergraduate engineering programs at universities that award doctorates. UCSB also ranked No. 15 among best performers for social mobility, which factors in the school’s results for Pell Grant recipients, and it was the No. 14 best college for veterans, a list that gives colleges credit for helping military veterans to pay for college and graduate. Cal Poly was first on the Best Colleges for Veterans list, and California Lutheran was third.
The region’s other four-year colleges and universities cracked a few of the U.S. News lists. CSU Channel Islands, near Camarillo, was No. 28 among regional universities in the West. Thomas Aquinas College, outside of Santa Paula, was No. 45 among national liberal arts colleges, and Westmont College in Montecito was No. 124 on that list.
U.S. News bases its rankings on a long list of criteria, with 40% of the score coming from outcomes such as graduation rates and retention rates, graduation rates among Pell Grant recipients and debt among graduates. The rest of the scores are drawn from factors that include financial resources; faculty resources including class sizes; student qualifications, including on standardized tests; selectivity; and the expert opinion of academics surveyed by U.S. News, which accounts for 20% of every college’s score.
The rankings have been called into question in recent years, in part due to the reliance on self-reported data, and because they tend to rank the colleges highest that have the most financial resources and the highest tuition. Columbia University has admitted to submitting inaccurate data in past years, and this year the university dropped from No. 2 to No. 18 among national universities.
UCSB and the other UC campuses are among the most affordable of the nation’s best universities, with in-state tuition around $14,000 per year. Only the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Florida were ranked higher and had lower in-state tuition, while the universities in the top 18 were all private schools with tuition and fees well above $50,000 per year.
U.S. News bases its “Best Value Schools” list on out-of-state tuition, so UCSB was only No. 215. Cal Poly, though, was 18th on the value list, and Cal Lutheran was seventh. Cal Poly’s tuition is around $11,000 for California residents, and CLU charges $48,000 but was helped in the rankings by its generous financial aid practices.