Date September 21, 2021
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National, global education rankings place Brown among world’s top universities

From the Wall Street Journal to U.S. News and World Report, prominent rankings and surveys in the last year gave Brown high marks for its distinctive student experience, world-class teaching and high-impact research.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In recognition of its distinctive student experience, world-class teaching, generous financial aid, high-impact research and commitment to freedom of expression, an array of education guides and news organizations released in the last year ranked Brown University among the world’s top schools.

In the Best Colleges 2022 guide published by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education on Tuesday, Sept. 21, Brown ranked No. 6 overall in the nation. The University landed Top 20 scores for the ranking’s “Outcomes,” “Resources” and “Engagement” lists, which measure (respectively) return on investment for graduates, capacity to deliver a high-quality academic experience, and student engagement on campus.

In U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges” guide, Brown retained the No. 14 overall slot among all four-year colleges and universities across the nation. The University received the No. 4 national rank for undergraduate teaching, which compares schools to their peer institutions and recognizes those with an “unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.”

The annual rankings, released on Monday, Sept. 13, ranked Brown’s senior capstone program fifth in the nation, while the University took the No. 1 spot for “Writing in the Disciplines” for the third year in a row.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Brown No. 3 in “Best Colleges for Veterans,” based on an expanding set of military partnerships and the University’s 2019 commitment to double the number of enrolled veterans by increasing financial aid and implementing test-optional admissions. Brown was included on a variety of other Top 20 lists — including “Service Learning” (No. 14), “First-Year Experiences” (No. 13) and “Best Value Schools” (No. 19) — as well as Top 40 lists for “Most Innovative Schools,” undergraduate research, computer science programs and engineering programs. 

In other rankings, Brown took the No. 19 slot for best overall university in the country in the QS World University Rankings’ U.S. list, which noted the University’s high research output and low student-to-faculty ratio. “America’s Top Colleges,” published by Forbes, included Brown on top lists for its overall rankings and for research universities, highlighting Brown’s signature Open Curriculum and the success of its alumni.

“Through rigorous yet flexible academic programs and intense student-faculty collaboration, Brown empowers students in everything from biomedical engineering to brain science to public policy to not simply examine critical issues facing the world, but to confront and work toward solving them,” University officials said. “While the character of our distinct academic experience and campus culture can’t be fully captured in lists, we’re pleased to see such a wide range of rankings recognize Brown’s innovative approach to teaching and learning.”

In September 2020, during a year marked by social unrest and contentious public discourse, Brown received the No. 9 slot in the 2020 College Free Speech Rankings. Compiled by College Pulse, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and RealClearEducation, the rankings are based on an analysis of 20,000 student surveys that evaluated five aspects of freedom of expression: openness, tolerance, self-expression, administrative support and speech codes.

Globally, Brown earned spots on multiple international lists, including the QS World University Rankings, on which it ranked No. 60 out of 1,300 universities from around the world and No. 47 in “graduate employability,” which measures criteria including alumni outcomes and partnerships with employers. The 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed Brown at No. 64 out of 1,600 schools worldwide, noting the University’s strengths in research opportunities and citations of published studies.

In recognition of Brown’s financial aid packages the Princeton Review placed Brown on multiple Top 20 lists centered on affordability, including “Best Schools for Financial Aid” and “Best Value Colleges.” Brown meets 100% of each undergraduate’s demonstrated financial need with aid packages that include scholarship grants, and no loans, giving students the opportunity to graduate debt free. Based on a student survey focused on community service, student government, sustainability efforts and on-campus student engagement, the University ranked No. 16 in the Top 20 schools for “Making an Impact.”

The Princeton Review’s compilation of the “Best 387 Colleges” in the U.S. prominently featured Brown in a number of unranked lists including “Happy Students,” “Great Quality of Life,” “LGBTQ-Friendly” and notably — with the University having sold its investments in companies that extract fossil fuels, and a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions well underway — “Green Colleges.”

U.S. News and World Report also recognized master’s and Ph.D. programs at Brown’s Graduate School and School of Public Health. Among others, University graduate programs ranked No. 4 in applied mathematics, No. 13 in English, No. 14 in mathematics, No. 15 in Earth sciences, No. 16 in economics, No. 17 in public health — a considerable jump from No. 49 a year prior — No. 18 in history and No. 20 in sociology.

In its list of best medical schools, U.S. News and World Report named the Warren Alpert Medical School No. 19 in the nation’s best primary care education programs and No. 17 in “Most Diverse Medical Schools.”

In rankings that ranged beyond academics and the student experience, Forbes awarded Brown the No. 8 slot among the “Best Mid-Sized Employers” in the U.S. based on the willingness of employees to recommend their employers to friends and family. Forbes also included Brown as the No. 2 top employer of any size for the State of Rhode Island.

[Editor's Note: The 2021 edition of the College Free Speech Rankings was released following publication of this story on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. The paragraph above was edited to clarify that the rank cited in this annual roundup of rankings is from the 2020 edition.]