Boston College, which placed 38th in last year's survey, tied with Lehigh and Tulane universities, and the universities of California-Irvine and Wisconsin-Madison. The rankings are based on such criteria as graduation rate, academic reputation, selectivity and faculty resources.
For the first time, US News also included BC on its "Best Values" list, at number 37.
The survey results were published in the magazine's America's Best Colleges guidebook 1999 edition, and excerpts were inlcuded in the Aug. 31 issue of US News .
Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities tied for first place in the survey of 228 national universities, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, which tied for fourth place. Other top 50 finishers were the University of Notre Dame (18th) and Georgetown (20th), Tufts (25th), Brandeis (31st) and Syracuse (47th) universities.
Boston College administrators said the University's consistently strong showing in the US News rankings reflects its commitment to maintain academic excellence, such as the recent $260 million investment to strengthen programs and resources in undergraduate, graduate and professional education.
"The results from this survey affirm the devotion of faculty and students to high-quality education and scholarship," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties David R. Burgess. "Clearly, we are an institution on the move and, with the opportunities provided by our investments, we expect to move even farther."
"To receive this kind of recognition is very encouraging," said Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay. "As the impact from the [$260 million] initiative continues and we seek to become an even better institution in other ways, we hope to see our efforts acknowledged and our position improved in future rankings."
US News sends questionnaires to the 1,400-plus four-year accredited colleges and universities and separates them by category. It then produces rankings based on an overall score that factors in 16 indicators of academic quality, such as reputation, graduation rate, selectivity, faculty resources, and alumni giving.
Boston College, which is in the national university category, achieved an overall score of 79 out of a possible 100, one point higher than last year, and its academic reputation score - as determined through surveys of presidents, provosts and admission deans in similarly categorized institutions - was 3.5 of a possible 5.
One of the most dramatic areas of improvement for BC in the US News rankings was in faculty resources, where the University rose from 87th to 63rd place. The criteria used in assessing faculty resources include class size, faculty salaries and benefits, proportion of full-time faculty, proportion of faculty with the highest degree in their field, and student-faculty ratio.
Lay noted that the University was in the top 25 in two of three key criteria US News recommends for judging colleges, ranking 21st in graduation and retention, and in admission acceptance rates. Boston College also attained 30th place in selectivity rankings, based on acceptance and yield rates, SAT and ACT scores of accepted students, and the proportion of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.
The "Best Values" rankings, according to US News , were determined using a formula based on an institution's overall score in the general survey and the average student's net cost of attending the school. It also included the percentage of undergraduates receiving need-based grants and the percentage of school costs covered by those grants.
Boston College, the magazine found, reported 42 percent of students receiving need-based grants, and an average cost of $18,244 after receiving need-based grants. Stanford was ranked as the best value among national universities, and others included Princeton (10th), Notre Dame (18th), Georgetown (32nd) and the University of Loyola-Chicago (42nd).
Lay said this achievement was particularly gratifying, given the University's endeavors to provide more financial assistance to its students. He pointed out, for example, that BC has now successfully implemented its four-year plan to offer complete financial aid to the top 25 percent of the incoming freshman classes.
"BC's ranking as a 'best value' national university will make a large impact on talented students who want an institution to help with the considerable financial commitment while providing a high-quality education," added Lay, who noted that magazine has again included Boston College in its recent listing of the nation's most selective colleges and universities.
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