U.S. News ranks UMass Amherst among best public universities

By Ed Blaguszewski

UMass Amherst ranks among the nation’s top 50 public national universities, according to the 2005 edition of America’s Best Colleges, released this week by U.S. News & World Report.

In the Public National Universities category, UMass Amherst ranks No. 46, along with five other institutions. Among all National Universities, UMass Amherst ranks No. 98, with seven other institutions. In addition, the university’s undergraduate programs in business and engineering earn mentions as national leaders.

Many critics, including Chancellor John V. Lombardi, believe the methodology of the U.S. News rankings to be simplistic and inaccurate. For instance, they question whether academic quality can be measured in a reputational survey of presidents, provosts and admissions officers, who may have sufficient knowledge to accurately evaluate only a small number of institutions.

In the magazine’s National Universities category are the 248 American universities (162 public and 86 private) that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees; many, such as UMass Amherst, strongly emphasize research. The magazine’s rankings are based on data that includes peer assessment, student retention, faculty resources and student selectivity.

Here are the U.S. News rankings for UMass Amherst for this year and the previous year:

•Top Public National Universities: 2005, No. 46; 2004, No. 42

• Best National Universities: 2005, No. 98; 2004, No. 91

• Best Undergraduate Business Programs: 2005, No. 68; 2004, No. 75

• Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at engineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate): 2005, No. 56; 2004, No. 51