UCLA's Powell Library
UCLA's Powell Library

UCLA Matches Berkeley as the Nation's Top Public University

Even as UCLA has consistently been rated as a top-20 university worldwide, it has existed in the shadow of its big sister campus, Berkeley, which has long stood alone as the globe's best public school.

No more.

U.S. News & World Report today unveiled its 2018 Best Colleges rankings and UCLA tied Berkeley. "For the first time, the University of California Los Angeles moves up to No. 1 for top public schools among national universities, tying with the University of California Berkeley," according a statement from U.S. News & World Report, which highlighted the achievement.

"UCLA takes great pride in the excellent academic achievements of our faculty and students, and I am grateful that their high level of accomplishment is reflected in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said via email.

Among national campuses, the Westwood school was ranked 21st, up from 24th last year, when crosstown rival USC bested it by one place. This year Berkeley, UCLA, USC and Emory University are tied. In 2015, USC and UCLA were tied at No. 23.

Michael Emerson Dirda, spokesman for Berkeley chancellor Carol Tecla Christ, said via email, "We try not to get too worked up, or too excited, every time a new list is published."

The latest U.S. News & World report list has Princeton, Harvard and the University of Chicago in first, second and third, respectively. At No. 5, Stanford was the highest-ranked California school. Pasadena's Caltech took the 10th spot; UC Santa Barbara was 37th; UC Irvine and UC San Diego tied for 42nd; and Pepperdine came in at No. 46.

Last week, UCLA boasted that it was ranked as the top public university in the world in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The school ranked 11th among U.S. universities and 15th worldwide. "UCLA consistently performs well in a variety of rankings, regardless of methodology," according to a statement from the university.

The Westwood institution tends to fare better in international rankings, including the last Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which had UCLA at No. 12. The most recent Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings ranked UCLA 13th. U.S. News & World Report's own Best Global Universities list ranks the Westwood school 10th.

A spokeswoman for the publication told us previously that its own world rankings relied more on research and reputation while domestic ones are dependent on the quality of undergraduate education and good outcomes for students.

The school's rise to the top of the public university rankings in the latest U.S. News & World report list could be seen as especially remarkable given the diversity of its student body, which is only about one-quarter white.

"As a top-ranked public research university, UCLA embraces our academic mission as well as our responsibility to reflect the ethnic and economic diversity of California, which is why we strive to perform well across a variety of rankings, including those that measure best value, socioeconomic diversity and research competence," Block said.

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