Skip to main content

UW–Madison moves up in Washington Monthly, Times Higher Ed rankings

September 2, 2020 By Käri Knutson

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has once again been named one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly magazine, ranking 21st overall (up from 23rd last year) and 12th among public universities (up from 13th last year).

The ranking appears in Washington Monthly’s annual College Guide and Rankings and is based on three criteria: research, social mobility, and community and national service.

UW–Madison ranked 16th overall in research, fifth in research expenditures, third in the number of science and engineering PhDs awarded, 21st in the number of faculty who are members of the National Academies relative to the number of full-time faculty, and 36th in the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards relative to the number of full-time faculty.

The university was recognized as one of the Best Colleges for Student Voting.  Washington Monthly measured which schools take part (and to what degree) in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University, which calculates registration numbers and turnout rates for participating campuses; participation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which helps schools craft plans to bolster civic engagement.

To see a full list of the rankings, click here.

UW–Madison has performed well in other recent rankings, including 28th by Money Magazine’s list of Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value. To compile the rankings, Money used weighted data points including tuition and fees, family borrowing and career earnings.

Money reviewed 739 schools based on 27 factors in three categories:

  • Quality of education, which includes the six-year graduation rate, peer and instructor quality, and Pell Grant recipient outcomes as a way to analyze how well schools support their low-income students;
  • Affordability, calculated by including the net costs students actually pay, after receiving aid, the period of time it takes to earn a degree, and the amount of money that students and their parents typically borrow through federal programs; and
  • Outcomes, which is measured using alumni salary data as reported on and socioeconomic mobility that shows the percentage of students at each school who move from low-income backgrounds to upper-middle-class jobs by the time students reach their mid-30s.

In other recent rankings:

  • UW–Madison is 49th worldwide, up from 51st last year, in Times Higher Education’s (THE) World University Rankings. THE World University Rankings are based on teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook. Overall, UW–Madison ranked 35th in teaching, based on: doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio; doctorates awarded to academic staff; teaching reputation; institutional income relative to the number of academic staff; and proportion of students to academic staff. The UW ranked 50th in research, based on: publications per staff; research income relative to the number of academic staff; and research reputation.
  • UW–Madison was ranked 38th in the world by The Three University Missions, which evaluates the quality of education, scientific work, and the universities’ contribution to society. The Three University Missions describes itself as the first global university ranking to respond to the changes in global education due to the COVID-19 pandemic through a broad range of indicators evaluating the relationship between university and society.
  • Earlier in August, UW–Madison was ranked highly in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, coming in at 32nd in the world and 23rd in the United States. UW–Madison is the third-highest ranked Big Ten school, behind only the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.
  • UW–Madison also performed well in the Center for World University rankings released in June, ranked 26th worldwide and 20th nationally.