MU slips six places in U.S. News & World Report's 'Best Colleges' list

Friday, August 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:09 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 21, 2009

COLUMBIA — MU has slipped a little in a popular college ranking list released Thursday.

U.S. News & World Report released its 2010 Best Colleges list, which ranks U.S. undergraduate programs. MU ranked 102 among 262 "National Universities," down six places from last year.

Since 2005, MU has fluctuated between 85 and 96 on the National Universities list.

"The university doesn't place a lot of emphasis on the rankings because the criteria change every year," MU spokesman Christian Basi said. "Our day-to-day commitment is providing our students with the best possible education."

Columbia College came in at 44 among "Master's Universities" in the Midwest region, and Stephens College was listed as a "Tier 4" school in the "Liberal Arts Colleges" category. "Tier 4" schools do not receive specific numerical rankings, but for the 2010 list, Stephens was placed somewhere between 192 and 249 out of 266 liberal arts colleges.

Stephens College doesn't heavily promote the U.S. News survey in its communications; it prefers directing current and prospective students to U-CAN: the University and College Accountability Network. As U-CAN's Web site states, the network is a consumer publication designed to give "prospective students and their families concise, Web-based, consumer-friendly information on the nation's nonprofit, private colleges and universities."

Columbia College was categorized as a Baccalaureate institution until three years ago. In 2009, Columbia College ranked 51 and has increased seven spots since then.

"Well, they look at the right things," Terry Smith, the school's executive vice president for academic affairs, said of the publishers of the Best Colleges list. "Were this the only list we appeared on, that would be one thing, but we also appear in three or four national rankings."

U.S. News first published the Best Colleges list in 1983. Currently, the magazine places the colleges and universities in four groups: National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Universities-Master's and Baccalaureate Colleges. The schools in the University-Master's and Baccalaureate Colleges categories are placed in one of four regions: North, South, Midwest and West.

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