While U.S. News & World Report usually awards its highest ratings to private universities, the editors of Washington Monthly prefer to give public universities more credit, and higher rankings. Thirteen of the top 20 universities in the Washington Monthly rankings are taxpayer-funded. Some of U.S. News & World Report's top private universities are not even ranked among Washington Monthly's top 30.
The University of California dominated Washington Monthly's 2012 list, with UC San Diego taking the top spot, and UC Berkeley and UCLA ranking fifth and sixth, respectively. UC Riverside is ranked number 9, and UC Davis is ranked number 17.
Public universities have been battered by state budget cuts in recent years, but despite their financial woes, 12 of the 20 highest-rated universities are public, including the top-ranked UC San Diego, the magazine's editors note. "Six UC campuses are still in our top 20. It remains a testament to California's historic commitment to institutions that combine world-class research and access for low-income students," the editors said.
Among the criteria considered by Washington Monthly are the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants; the difference between predicted vs. actual graduation rates; total research spending; Peace Corps service by graduates; community service participation; faculty awards; and faculty members elected to national academies.
The Washington Monthly 2012 College Rankings can be found at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/toc_2012.php.