U.S. News and World Report has placed UC Irvine and Chapman University in Orange as the top-ranking local schools on its 2013 list of the best colleges and universities. In total, ten O.C.-based colleges and universities in four major categories were named to the prestigious list, receiving a number of other accolades for individual degree programs and offerings.
UC Irvine was named No. 44 on the ranking of the best national universities, and was also rated as No. 12 among the country’s best public schools. In addition, the Irvine school was recognized with high rankings for almost three-dozen of its graduate degree programs.
Chapman placed first among local schools in the publication’s list of the top universities in the Western region, rated as No. 6 overall, and garnered several other rankings for its programs in business, law and education. The school’s placement on the list has steadily improved over the years, according to Chapman’s president, James Doti. “The steady U.S. News ranking increase that Chapman has achieved over the past 22 years is a feat unmatched by any other university in the nation.” Over the years, the school has risen from No. 61 on the list, making it the No. 1 up-and-coming school. "This honor affirms the hard work and commitment to excellence of our faculty and staff, as well as reflecting the steadily increasing quality of our students and recent and upcoming enhancements to our campus and academic programs.”
The U.S. News Best Colleges rankings are split into several categories for schools with different focuses, programs and regional penetrations. The annual list evaluates schools based on a number of criteria, including student retention, faculty resources, admission selectivity, financial resources and graduation rates. In the case of national universities and national liberal arts colleges, the additional factors of graduation rate performance and reputation ratings among high school counselors are also considered.
Besides Chapman, other local schools to make the top regional universities list include Cal State University Fullerton, at No. 31, and No. 5 among the top public schools. CSUF also garnered several high distinctions among the best graduate school programs and online programs in business and engineering. Concordia University in Irvine also made the top regional schools list, at No. 66.
Among the top regional colleges rankings, Costa Mesa’s Vanguard University placed at No. 10, and No. 22 Hope International University in Fullerton also received ratings for two of its online undergraduate programs. Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo was named No. 49 on the list of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, and also placed No. 8 as a ‘best value’ school.
Each school’s mission determines its overall category; for example, national universities are determined as those institutions that offer a full range of programs at the undergraduate, masters’, and Ph.D. level, as well as an emphasis on faculty research. National liberal arts colleges, on the other hand, focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education.
Three other Orange County schools that were not ranked to any of the major national or regional categories received accolades in other areas. Irvine’s Brandman University was noted with a number of high rankings in the online programs categories for education and business programs. Trident University International in Cypress was rated for its reputation among high school counselors, placing at No. 183. And the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach was named to the list of top fine arts schools in the nation, at No. 206.
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