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Penn State Rises in New U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Penn State fared well in the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” for 2024, moving up in most categories, though the university is low on the list of “best value schools.”

The widely cited rankings of U.S. schools placed Penn State at No. 28 among public universities, up from 31st last year, and No. 60 among 435 national universities, jumping 17 spots from 77th a year ago.

Penn State was 10th among current Big Ten universities in the public school rankings, ahead of Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. The university was also the top-rated school in Pennsylvania, outpacing Pitt, which was No. 32 among public universities and No. 67 in national universities

“Strong placements in rankings such as U.S. News are but one metric to show that we are succeeding in our mission as Pennsylvania’s flagship, land-grant, public research university,” Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Justin Schwartz said in a statement.

“Penn State’s quality remains as strong as ever. We are among the top public universities in the nation and the world. We remain committed to excellence within our mission of teaching, research and service, and to providing access to a world-class education for all qualified Pennsylvanians.”

Many public universities rose in this year’s rankings as U.S. News changed its methodology in response to criticism that it reinforced elitism and long-standing perceptions of prestige. Removing some factors and adding others, more than 50% of a school’s ranking is now based on “outcome measures related to schools’ success at enrolling, retaining and graduating students from different backgrounds with manageable debt and post-graduate success,” according to the publication.

One ranking where Penn State did not do well was for “best value schools,” a measure that balances academic quality with net cost of attendance. Penn State was 193rd out of 211 ranked national universities in the category and last among 13 schools in Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania ranked as the “best value” school in the commonwealth at No. 13 nationally, and Temple was the top public Pennsylvania college in the category at No. 70. Pitt was not ranked.

Penn State was last among Big Ten universities for best value, trailing No. 186 Ohio State. The university was also No. 342 out of 434 for “Top Performers on Social Mobility,” which measures enrollment and graduation of of disadvantaged students awarded Pell Grants as well as first-generation graduation rates.

For undergraduate program rankings, Penn State scored 16 top 25 programs and four in the top 10, with only one seeing a small decline from last year. Program rankings are based on evaluations by academic leadership and senior faculty who participate in a peer assessment survey.

The university ranked No. 21 out of 523 schools for Best Undergraduate Business Programs, up two spots from a year ago. In business specialty programs, Penn State had five ranked in the top 25 of their respective categories: supply chain management/logistics (8); production/operations management (11); management (17); marketing (24); and accounting (25).

Penn State’s undergraduate engineering program was No. 19 out of 208 nationally, up three spots from last year, and had 10 specialty programs in the top 30: materials (9); industrial/manufacturing (9); biological/agricultural (10); civil (13); mechanical (15); aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical (15); environmental/environmental health (15); chemical (20); computer (25); and electrical/electronic/communications (27)

The university’s nursing program was No. 31 among 656 schools, up from No. 39 last year.

Penn State’s undergraduate computer science program came in at No. 40 out of 554, down from 37.

New rankings for 2024 include Best Undergraduate Psychology Programs, where Penn State ranked No. 34 out of 542, and Best Undergraduate Economics Programs, with the university scoring a ranking of No. 41 out of 309.

Penn State also rated No. 36 among 175 programs nationally for “Best Colleges for Veterans,” and No. 34