The University of California, San Diego has been ranked as the top university in the nation for the fourth consecutive year by Washington Monthly. The magazine’s annual “College Rankings” considers how universities are “acting on behalf of the true public interest,” measuring institutions based on three criteria: social mobility, research and civic engagement.
Three of the top five schools on the magazine’s list of best national universities are University of California campuses (Riverside was second and Berkeley fifth). Three other UC campuses were in the top 25, which the magazine said was a reflection of the university system’s “historical commitment to pairing public access with world-class research.”
UC San Diego was ranked high by the publication for social mobility, based on the number of students who receive federal Pell Grants (need-based grants to low-income students) and their graduation rates.
At UC San Diego, approximately 65 percent of students receive need-based financial aid and nearly 44 percent of students receive the Pell Grant.
“We are honored to receive this recognition by Washington Monthly for a fourth consecutive year. This ranking is a testament to UC San Diego’s efforts to remain accessible and affordable, and to offer opportunities of upward social mobility for students from all backgrounds,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are committed to being a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university that provides opportunity for all.”
According to the editor of Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris, “This year’s college guide is an alternative ranking … that rewards schools for, among other things, recruiting and graduating students of modest means.” Among the various UC San Diego initiatives that are designed to promote social mobility is the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program. The scholarship, which was announced in spring 2013, is designed to help make a UC San Diego education a reality for students from three local high schools that work with historically underserved communities: Gompers Preparatory Academy, Lincoln High School and The Preuss School UCSD.
In the research category, Washington Monthly took into account the number of undergraduate alumni who go on to receive a Ph.D., faculty awards and research expenditures, among other criteria. During the most recent fiscal year, UC San Diego received $985 million in research funding, positioning it among the nation’s top 10 universities for annual research funding.
In addition to UC San Diego’s top honor, the University of California as a whole received praise by Washington Monthly: “Campuses in the UC system represented six of our top 25 institutions, reflecting the University of California’s historical commitment to pairing public access with world-class research.”
UC President Mark Yudof recently stated that, “Nearly half of UC students graduate with no loan debt, and the average debt upon graduation for those who do borrow is roughly $7,000 below the national average. UC’s graduation rates and time to degree rank high among public universities.”