UC Riverside named No. 15 public university

UCR makes a small gain over 2019 in Washington Monthly’s college list; ranking tweaked its methodology in wake of pandemic’s economic fallout

Courtyard, Rivera Library, and bell tower on March 28, 2019. (UCR/Stan Lim)

ISn its 2020 ranking of top national universities, Washington Monthly magazine has named UC Riverside No. 27 among all institutions, and No. 15 among public universities. UCR climbed one spot among publics, from No. 16 in 2019.

“The Washington Monthly ranking is significant because it was one of the first ranking systems to reward colleges based not on their prestige or exclusivity, but rather on what they do to make our country better,” said UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox. “I’m pleased Washington Monthly continues to acknowledge UCR’s record as a national leader for student success, knowledge creation, and research excellence.”

In the subcategory of “service rank,” UCR was No. 15 among the 389 four-year universities ranked in Washington Monthly’s 2020 list. The community-service list factors military and public service and community-service projects as part of its scoring.

UCR was ranked No. 34 nationally by Washington Monthly in the social mobility subcategory. Social mobility considers the graduation rates and future earnings of low-income students. In its most recent list, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCR No. 1 in the U.S. for social mobility. 

Washington Monthly’s ranking system was devised in 2005 as an answer to traditional college-ranking systems that favor factors including low acceptance rates and alumni giving. 

“Washington Monthly’s annual college guide ranks individual schools based on how well they promote upward mobility, research, and civic engagement,” the magazine’s editors wrote in a preface to this year’s rankings. 

In the preface, the editors alluded to pandemic economic fallout and the Black Lives Matter movement in predicting universities will hear a greater call to boost Black, Latino, and Native American students, as well as students from low-income families. The Education Trust named UCR among the best in the U.S. in terms of graduation success for Latino and Black students. 

Washington Monthly’s top five for 2020 looks much like other lists, led—in order—by Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Princeton. But 11 of the top 20 universities are state schools, including five of the UC campuses.

UCR was sandwiched in this year’s rankings by California State University, Fresno, at No. 26, and the University of Virginia, at No. 28. In 2019, UCR also placed No. 27 in the Washington Monthly rankings. In 2018, UCR was No. 28.

The full 2020 Washington Monthly rankings report is available online.