September 14, 2020
Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu
On the heels of record retention and enrollment growth amidst unprecedented challenges facing higher education, the University of Missouri has jumped 15 spots in the U.S. News & World Report list of top national universities, rising to No. 124 in the publication’s newest rankings of more than 380 public and private institutions.
UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi said the rise in rankings is a testament of the commitment to excellence by the entire Mizzou community.
“This level of improvement doesn’t happen without a dedicated team fulfilling our mission of education, research, outreach and economic development and telling our compelling story,” Choi said. “Every one of our more than 8,000 faculty and staff have been putting in their best effort as we meet our commitment to serving our students and providing them with the high-quality education that they have come to expect from Mizzou.”
MU also moved up five spots, from No. 90 last year to No. 85, among the Best Value Schools — a measure of colleges that offer the best value for students getting need-based financial aid. When compared to other public national universities identified by U.S. News & World Report, Mizzou ranked No. 12 for Best Value and No. 1 among public national universities in neighboring states (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois). Additionally, Mizzou climbed 13 spots to No. 86 among the Best Colleges for Veterans.
MU started this fall with a 4% increase in opening-day enrollment — a rise due, in part, to a record 90% retention rate — a measure of freshmen who return as sophomores. Preliminary increases from the previous fall also include 7.6% more underrepresented minority students, 5.3% more Missouri residents and a 12.9% increase in transfer students.
The new rankings are included in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges, which was released today by U.S News & World Report and are based on data from 2020. Rankings of National Universities include 389 schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s and doctoral programs and show a commitment to producing groundbreaking research. The institutions are ranked on more than 15 measures of academic quality.
“We are pleased to see improvements in the rankings and believe that the investments we have made in student success will continue to be reflected in increased performance and measurable results,” said Maurice Gipson, vice chancellor of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at MU. “The fact that we are experiencing a record retention rate indicates to me that our increased focus on retaining students is providing them with an atmosphere where they can thrive.”
In the 2021 edition, Mizzou registered improvements in the six-year graduation rate as well as peer evaluation, among others. Another student outcome that showed improvement was the average six-year graduation rate for students who receive Pell grants, which rose from 55% last year to 59%. In the category of student excellence, the percentage of MU freshmen, who entered in Fall 2019, in the top 10% of their high school class rose from 30% to 33%.
“These rankings are an important measure of institutional quality and excellence,” Provost Latha Ramchand said. “Our 15-point improvement reflects the hard work of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters, and shows Mizzou will continue to evolve and grow as a leading national research university and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.”
The Best Value Schools ranking is based on such factors as the average net price paid by undergraduates after receiving need-based grants and the percentage of undergraduates receiving need-based scholarships or grants — aid that students don’t have to pay back. From academic year 2018-19 to 2019-20, the percentage of students receiving scholarships increased from 50% to 58%. In addition, the Best Value ranking considers how well the institution performed in the overall U.S. News & World Report’s national universities ranking.
Plus, MU rose three spots to No. 60 among public national universities.
Robert Ross, director of the MU Student Veterans Resource and Support Center, said he is pleased that Mizzou continues to be recognized as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans and credits the university’s commitment to service members, veterans and their families.
“Campus leadership has created a veteran friendly environment that places a high premium on student veteran success, and we continue to enhance our veteran friendly toolkit,” he said.