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Change in College Rankings Methodology Gives Large Boost to UAlbany

By Aedan Perry | October 2, 2023

The UAlbany sign atop the Casey Stadium Tower

Photo Credit: Aedan Perry / ASP

The latest edition of the annual college rankings produced by US News and World Report came out a few weeks ago, and the University at Albany benefited substantially from tweaks to its methodology.

UAlbany currently rests at number 133 among top universities in the new rankings, as part of a nine-way tie for the position. This places it within the top 31% of universities. Looking at their rankings of public schools, you get the same result – top 31% – this time ranking 70 out of 270 public universities.

Among the schools in New York that the report considers to be "national schools" UAlbany ranks 15 out of 28 schools, not even in the top half, albeit by a narrow margin. This edition of the rankings put increased importance on social mobility that colleges provide their students. As it happens, UAlbany ranks in a four way tie for 31 out of 434, which puts it in the top 8% of national universities. The increased weight given to this metric in the overall rankings helped UAlbany considerably.

This focus on social mobility is something the university has placed a lot of emphasis on. In a recent interview with Inside Higher Ed, University President Havidán Rodríguez said, "I’m not one to focus on rankings, but the changes this year tell a pretty compelling story about the mission of higher education."

University Spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist concurred in a recent email: "From UAlbany’s perspective, the changes are important because they appear to better capture the value that excellent and accessible universities like UAlbany provide to their students – especially those who stand to benefit the most from a life-changing college education"

This is in contrast to many other schools who saw their rankings go down, sometimes considerably. This has led to several schools considering whether to stop cooperating with the US News and World Report altogether.

There is no guarantee that the university will see any substantial upwards trajectory in the future. This year was particularly unusual in how much some schools moved. In the top university rankings, UAlbany jumped 48 spots, which amounts to over 11 percentage points, mostly due to the methodological changes above. Without those changes, any improvement to UAlbany's ranking would have likely been substantially more modest.

Despite that, there is one thing in particular that might lead to an improved ranking in the future – the recent merger between UAlbany and SUNY Polytechnic's now former College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. This has resulted in the addition of 40 new UAlbany staff members, as well as the launch of UAlbany’s own College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering, which is itself a merger between the former CNSE and UAlbany's former College of Engineering.

If this major addition to the university goes particularly well, it could help bolster UAlbany’s rankings even further.


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