Cities Journal

These Are The Top Public Universities In The U.S. For 2016


When we think about universities in the United States, we often believe that the only truly great ones are private ones that belong to the Ivy League. In reality, however, there are quite a few public universities that can hold their own when compared against even the most expensive higher education organizations in the country.

In the U.S., the majority of public universities are state funded and operated. They are mostly funded out of the state budget and because of this, they are usually more expensive for out-of-state students, whose parents have not contributed to the universities through state taxes.

There is at least one public university in every state in the country, with some boasting over thirty. Of course, not all public universities can be great and today, we will be looking into the best of them. More precisely, we will be taking a look at the list collated by the people from Niche, a website that ranks K-12 and universities around the U.S. Their list is the latest one and it is the closest representation of the best public universities in the U.S. for 2016.

But, before we start examining individual public universities and how they ranked, we should look into the methodology used to rank them, so as to find out which features and characteristics were deemed the most important by the people who did the research.

They looked at a number of factors in order to grade and rank the public universities. These different factors accounted for a certain percentage of the overall grade and, subsequently, the ranking. For example, they looked at the Academic Grade which made up for the 25 percent of the final grade and which incorporated acceptance rates, quality of the people who teach and alumni and student surveys concerning academics.

Value Grade also made up for 25 percent of the overall grade and it was calculated by looking at the average loan amount, earnings of the alumni later and a student survey concerning the value they got out of the university. Professors Grade was worth 10 percent of the overall grade and it was calculated based on the student-faculty ratio, number of awards the faculty won and the student survey. Student Surveys on the Overall Experience also made up for 10 percent of the final grade and in it, the students themselves graded their experience while studying. At least 10 students from the university had to complete the survey in order for it to count.

Diversity Grade which incorporated factors like ethnic composition, proportion of in and out of state students and student survey on diversity on campus made for 7.5 percent of the final grade. Student Life Grade (diversity, safety, athletics) was also worth 7.5 percentAthletics and Campus Quality Grades were worth 5 percent of the final grade each, while the Local Area and Safety Grades were worth 2.5 percent each.


So, which public university “graduated” with the highest honors according to Niche? It was University of Texas at Austin. It got an A+ in five categories, including the Academics Grade. It got A’s on Value and Professors grades and an A- on the Diversity grade. Its only B came for Safety where it got a B-. 334 students graded their overall experience 4.5 out of 5.

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor came in at second place, with grades that are virtually the same as those that the highest ranked public university got. The only major difference is the C+ it got for Safety and the fact that its students gave it 4.4 out of 5.

In third spot, we find University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson himself and still offering first-class education to its students. It got A+ grades in Academics and Value Grade, as well as in Student Life and Athletics. It got A for its Professors and Campus Quality. It also received 4.4 out of 5 from its students on the overall experience.

Two Californian public universities round off the Top 5. In spot #4 we have University of California in Los Angeles, a university with some of the best grades of them all, but who received “only” 4.2 out of 5 from its students on overall experience. University of California – Berkeley made it to fifth, with another set of stellar grades but with its students giving it 4.1 out of 5.

You can find the rest of the list HERE.

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