Virginia Tech was ranked tied for No. 20 in the National Universities class for Top Public Schools in the latest U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Colleges rankings released today.

U.S. News & World Report ranks bachelor’s degree-granting institutions in the United States annually to help prospective high school students find their best fits for college. The publication divided its rankings of more than 1,400 schools into divisions of National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities, and Regional Colleges. Schools in the National Universities category offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master's and Ph.D. programs.

The methodology to determine scores varies among categories. The publication used 19 measures of academic quality in the Top Public Schools category, such as graduation rates, retention rates, affordability, value of the degree after graduation, faculty resources, opinion of experts (presidents, provosts, etc.), financial resources, and test scores.

Virginia Tech’s No. 20 ranking represents a three-spot jump from last year’s ranking.

“This ranking among the top public universities in the nation reflects Virginia Tech’s commitment to provide all students with access to a dynamic, diverse, and engaged Hokie experience,” said Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. “We will continue to be guided by this commitment to serve and ensure students have the support and guidance needed to be successful in their academic and career pursuits.” 

Social mobility

Virginia Tech’s biggest jump in the U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Colleges rankings came in the category of social mobility.

With this category, the publication rated how well a university graduated economically disadvantaged students. Criteria for this category consists of the graduation rates for students receiving Pell Grants and first-generation students.

Virginia Tech ranked tied for No. 207 nationally in Top Performers for Social Mobility, a jump of 130 spots.

The university has made access and affordability for economically disadvantaged students a priority in recent years. In 2018, the school changed its application model to increase accessibility to financial aid and include a new set of essay questions that give applicants more opportunity to communicate aspects that don’t necessarily show up in grades, extracurricular activities, or test scores.

More recently, the university increased the number of four-year, renewable scholarships offered to Virginia students through the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a scholarship program designed to offset the costs of college for select Virginia high school students with significant financial need.

Last year, President Tim Sands launched the Virginia Tech Advantage, which seeks to make the Virginia Tech experience within reach financially for Virginia students, regardless of income.

“At Virginia Tech, our dedication to promoting social mobility isn't just an accolade. It's the embodiment of our enduring commitment to our land-grant mission,” said Luisa Havens Gerardo, vice provost for enrollment management. “By prioritizing student success, affordability, and experiential learning opportunities for every student through the Virginia Tech Advantage, we are not only transforming individual lives but also furthering positive societal impact that will last for generations.”

College of Engineering scores well

Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering continues to receive national acclaim. The college’s undergraduate engineering programs rated tied for No. 13 nationally among universities that offer a Ph.D. option, a three-spot jump from a year ago. Scores in the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs category were based solely on peer assessment.

Various programs within the College of Engineering scored well, too, led by the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, which came in third nationally.

Other engineering programs ranked highly include the following:

  • Civil engineering (No. 6)
  • Environmental engineering (tied No. 9)
  • Biological/agricultural engineering (tied No. 10)
  • Aerospace engineering (No. 13)
  • Mechanical engineering (No. 13)
  • Computer engineering (No. 15)
  • Electrical engineering (No. 16)

"The value of an engineering degree from Virginia Tech is reflected by continued strong placement in U.S. News & World Report, and we’re excited about the direction of our respective departments,” said Julie Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “Our faculty and staff have aligned education and research, which is a critical part of our strategic plan, and we’re not only happy to be receiving national acclaim for our efforts, but also confident that those efforts will lead to sustained progress going forward.”

Other rankings to note

In addition to being ranked in the top 20 among public schools, Virginia Tech came in tied for No. 47 overall among all universities in the National Universities category. Also, the university came in tied for No. 25 in the Most Innovative Schools category. The Most Innovative Schools rankings were based upon top academic’ responses to a survey question that asked which schools were making innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, or facilities.

In addition, the university ranked tied for No. 17 nationally in the Learning Communities category and tied for No. 27 nationally in the Best Colleges for Veterans category.

A complete listing of Virginia Tech’s worldwide and national rankings from various publications and other outlets can be found online.

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