Case Western Reserve fell two notches to 42nd this year as U.S. News & World Report changed its rankings methodology for the third time in three years. 

The dip came despite a five-point jump in the university’s overall score, which reflected progress in its financial resources rank, acceptance rate and, for the first time in at least a decade, graduation rate performance that surpassed the magazine’s projections.

“While the magazine’s frequent adjustments to how it calculates rankings can make it more difficult for families to assess the strengths of universities they are considering,” President Barbara R. Snyder said, “U.S. News’ recent emphasis on how institutions serve lower-income and first-generation students highlights an essential part of higher education’s mission. The attention is needed, and we welcome it.”

The improvement against expectations for degree attainment in part reflected the magazine’s decision this year to include results from two years’ of graduating classes, instead of just one. Last year the publication added the performance of first-generation students to graduation-related categories, and in 2018 it specifically brought Pell Grant recipients into its equations.

These shifts saw Case Western Reserve post an 84 percent graduation rate in this year’s rankings, one point above the rate the magazine predicted. This year’s admissions rate improved by two points, to 27%, while financial resources rank climbed by three to 37th. The undergraduate business ranking, meanwhile, remained at 38th, while the engineering school fell three slots to 42nd. Both rankings are based entirely on ratings from peers.