Aerial photo overlooking Case Quad on CWRU's campus during fall

U.S. News & World Report rankings overhaul sees private universities fall an average of 16 positions; CWRU slips 9, to 53rd

‘Undergraduate Research & Creative Projects’ climbs to 21st; first-time ranking of entrepreneurship sees campus debut at 34th

In a year in which sweeping methodological changes saw private institutions fall an average of 16 positions in U.S. News & World Report’s national university rankings, Case Western Reserve slipped nine slots, to 53rd.

The magazine explained the overhaul—which affected 22 of 24 factors—as an attempt to place greater emphasis on student outcomes. The new categories involved such areas as first-generation graduation rates and graduates’ earnings, and eliminated ones including class size and percentage of faculty with the highest degrees in their fields. 

The adjustments also saw public universities’ rankings rise by an average of nearly eight positions. 

Among private universities, Case Western Reserve dropped just one position, to 31st.

“I have long emphasized that choosing a college should be more about finding the place that is best for that particular individual,” President Eric W. Kaler said. “Such wide swings in a single year only reinforces how important it is for students to identify the specific qualities they seek in a university—rather than following a list guided by a publication’s priorities.”

Among the categories that did not change, Case Western Reserve saw its first-to-second-year retention dropped by one point, to 93%, while its six-year graduation rate climbed by two points, to 86%. 

Case Western Reserve also improved in U.S. News rankings relating to specific subjects or areas not included in its overall standing among national universities. For example, it improved one position, to 21st, for undergraduate research and creative projects; four, to 40th; in finance; five, to 51st, in first-year experiences; and eight, to 37th, in undergraduate engineering. Its undergraduate nursing program ranks No. 10.

The campus also ranked 34th in a new category: entrepreneurship. 

As with CWRU’s overall peer ratings, which stayed at 3.7, the rankings of these categories were determined by voting among presidents, provosts and admissions leaders.

U.S. News & World Report’s dramatic redesign of its “Best Colleges” methodology comes after nearly a year of unprecedented criticism—in particular from law and medical schools. More than a dozen schools in each discipline withdrew from the rankings, citing objections that respective methodologies placed too much emphasis on entering students grades and test scores as well as reputational factors. The magazine also made significant changes to law and medical school methodologies earlier this year.