USAFA, CC and UCCS tops in the nation

Colorado Springs is home to three top colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Best Colleges rankings.

The U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs all made the list of the best in the country.

The U.S. Air Force Academy tied the U.S. Naval Academy as the No. 4 top undergraduate engineering program in the nation. Several Air Force Academy engineering specialties also received top rankings, including: No. 2 in aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering, for the 12th consecutive year;  No. 5 in civil engineering; No. 5 in computer engineering. The USAFA was tied for No. 6 in electrical engineering, with the U.S. Naval Academy; No. 8 in mechanical engineering; and No. 56 in undergraduate business program, tied with several other universities.

A recent addition to the U.S. News & World Report best college rankings is the category of how high school counselors rank national universities and national liberal arts colleges.  These rankings categorize the Air Force Academy as a liberal arts college, and high school counselors ranked the Air Force Academy in a three-way tie with West Point and Harvey Mudd College as the No. 2 best liberal arts college in the nation.

Each of the rankings are compiled using several weighted factors including undergraduate academic reputation as determined by academic peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving.

Colorado College was ranked No. 28 in the best national liberal arts colleges. The report highlighted the college’s class schedule. “At Colorado College, the typical semester does not exist,” the report said. “Instead of taking a full course load like students at most other schools, CC students take one class every three-and-a-half weeks through the school’s Block Plan. Classes are small and, with no designated end time, can run as long as a teacher needs.”

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs also is among the best public regional universities in the Western United States and its College of Engineering and Applied Science is a national leader, according to the magazine.

In the 2013 college rankings edition, the magazine ranked the overall quality of UCCS No. 9 in a three-way tie among public Western regional universities. Among all public and private Western regional universities, UCCS was ranked in the first tier and 38 overall.

Regional universities provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs, and few, if any, doctoral programs. U.S. News includes 625 universities in this category in one of four geographic regions—North, South, Midwest and West.

The magazine’s editors also lauded the UCCS undergraduate engineering program, ranking it tied for No. 9 in the nation among public engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s, including military service academies. The overall national ranking for UCCS undergraduate engineering program, including public and private universities, was 25.

“We appreciate the recognition by U.S. News,” said Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak. “For almost 50 years, UCCS has served the people of the Pikes Peak region with high-quality, innovative programs that have allowed individuals to succeed and our community to prosper.”

In ranking more than 1,400 colleges and universities, U.S. News relies on quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality. Among the measures are student retention rates, graduation rates, and class sizes.