A change in ranking categories: What the new U.S. News & World Report rankings mean to RIT




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Mike Bradley

Rochester Institute of Technology is being recognized as a top tier national university for the first time in the 34-year history of U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Rochester Institute of Technology is being recognized as a top tier national university for the first time in the 34-year history of U.S. News & World Report rankings. The 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges ranked RIT 107th in the “National Universities” category.

Question: What is significant about this new ranking?
Answer: For the first time, RIT earned a spot on the U.S. News top-tier list in the “Best National University” category. The change is a result of the university’s reclassification in becoming a “doctoral university” this year due to its rapid increase in research and Ph.D. graduates. This top-tier grouping includes 310 universities that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and doctoral programs. RIT ranked 107th. These colleges also are committed to producing groundbreaking research. Overall, there are 1,374 four-year colleges and universities cited by U.S. News in various categories, and there are 4,664 post-secondary institutions in the United States.

Q: What triggered this move to a new category?
A: The move to the prestigious national category was triggered earlier this year when RIT became a “doctoral university” by the leading classification of U.S. colleges and universities. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education changed RIT from “Masters – Comprehensive” to “Doctoral University” This change occurs when a university graduates more than 20 Ph.D. degrees per year, a figure that RIT has exceeded in recent years. In May, RIT awarded 35 doctoral degrees in seven Ph.D. programs, the most in its history.

Q: Didn’t RIT used to be ranked in the top 10 on a U.S. News list?
A: Yes, but this was in a different grouping of schools based on a Carnegie Classification of “Master’s – Comprehensive.” U.S. News uses the Carnegie Classification as its standard to group colleges and universities. So previously, U.S. News had RIT listed among “Regional Universities” in the North region of the United States. Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs, according to U.S. News. For more than three decades, RIT traditionally ranked among the top 10 of this category. Last year, the university was ranked No. 7 among “Regional Universities – North.” But RIT graduated out of this category and into “National Universities” with the rise in doctoral degrees.

Q: How many Ph.D. programs does RIT have?
A: RIT has seven doctoral programs: astrophysics, color science, computing and information sciences, engineering, microsystems engineering, imaging science and sustainability. A Ph.D. in mathematical modeling begins in fall 2017. Several other Ph.D. programs are in the planning stages as RIT begins to implement its 2025 Strategic Plan, “Greatness Through Difference.”

Q: Where else was RIT recognized in the 2017 U.S. News lists?
A: RIT also ranked 33rd among best value schools—“Great Schools, Great Prices.” The calculation compares a school’s academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of financial aid. “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” according to U.S. News.

In further rankings:

  • RIT was among 22 universities recognized for excellent co-operative learning and internship programs.
  • RIT ranked 69th among “Best Colleges for Veterans.” U.S. News aims to provide military veterans and active duty service members with data on which top-ranked schools offer benefits that can help make a college education affordable.
  • RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering ranked No. 65 nationally for undergraduate engineering programs among universities where the highest degree is a doctorate.
  • RIT’s Saunders College of Business was ranked No. 77 nationally among best programs for undergraduate business education;

Q: Besides U.S. News, how does RIT rate on other rankings?
A: RIT has nearly a dozen programs that are ranked in the top 10 nationally. Many of these programs are in non-traditional academic area such as interactive games and media, industrial design, imaging science, sustainable manufacturing, packaging science. For more information, visit our Rankings and Recognition site at: http://www.rit.edu/overview/rankings-and-recognition

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Mike Bradley

Rochester Institute of Technology is being recognized as a top tier national university for the first time in the 34-year history of U.S. News & World Report rankings.