UT-Austin, A&M, SMU and UH rise; Rice and Baylor slip in U.S. News rankings

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September 10, 2018

Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin are the only Texas schools to rank in the top 50 nationwide, according to rankings released today from U.S. News & World report that placed the Houston private school in the 16th spot and UT-Austin in the 49th. 

With about a half-dozen of the state’s colleges and universities again landing in the 50-to-200 range, there were few surprises for Texas schools in the 2019 rankings. Arguably the most influential comparison of higher education institutions in the country, the report is a marketing boon to colleges that rank highly, even as critics have questioned the methodology used to determine how schools fare. 

Compared to 2018, Rice, Baylor University, Texas Christian University and Texas Tech University all fell slightly on the list, while Southern Methodist University and the flagships of the state’s best-known public university systems — UT-Austin and Texas A&M; University at College Station — rose by a respective two, seven and three spots. UT-Dallas, which this year received the designation of being an emerging research university in Texas, making the school eligible for additional state funding, shot up from the 145 slot last year to 129 in the compilation released Monday. The standing of University of Houston also increased from 192 in 2018 to 171. 

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Princeton University and Harvard University topped the leaderboard of national universities, and University of California system schools led among public institutions. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has said he would like Texas universities to rank among the top 10 nationally, a goal that has yet to be reached. 

This year, U.S. News rejiggered the formula it uses to rank schools, dropping schools’ acceptance rate as a factor and giving a heavier weight to how effectively institutions help their low-income students. The methodology now considers the graduation rates of students who receive federal Pell grants and how those rates differ from their higher-income peers. 

Here are all the Texas universities that made the top 200. Last year’s rankings are in parentheses. 

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16. Rice (14)

49. UT-Austin (56)

59. SMU (61)

66. A&M; (69)

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78. Baylor (75)

80. TCU (78)

129. The University of Texas at Dallas (145)

171. University of Houston (192)

187. Texas Tech University (176) 

Disclosure: Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M; University, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Houston and Texas Tech University been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. 

“UT-Austin, A&M, SMU and UH rise; Rice and Baylor slip in U.S. News rankings” was first published at by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.