For the fifth straight year since breaking into the Top 10, UF has climbed in U.S. News & World Reports rankings, this time to the highest rungs. How did we get there?
After five consecutive years of ascension, the University of Florida’s performance has positioned UF among the nation’s Top 5 ranked public universities, according to the 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings released today, marking an extraordinary milestone in the university’s history.
UF’s steady climb exemplifies a unified and sustained commitment at all levels, from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Legislature, our congressional representatives, the Board of Governors and the UF Board of Trustees to the thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors who strive daily to contribute to the university’s culture of excellence and integrity in learning, discovery and invention. UF has advanced a record nine spots on the public university list since 2017. On the U.S. News National Universities list, which includes both public and private institutions, UF ranked No. 28, a rise of 22 spots during the same period.
Historically, five schools have defined what it means to be one of the nation’s best public universities – the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan; the University of Virginia, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These schools have led the nation for 30 years. The University of Florida is now in that group of elite universities as the No. 5 ranked public university in the country.
September 10, 2021
Today we celebrate a victory for the state of Florida, which, for the first time ever, is home to a top-five public university.
— Mori Hosseini, chair of UF’s Board of Trustees —
“It is my privilege to announce that the University of Florida has moved up yet again in the U.S. News & World Report Ranking to No. 5 for public universities throughout the United States,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “When we look back over the past 20 years, we’ve seen a steady improvement. In 2012, the University of Florida was ranked number 19, and now, they are ranked five. There’s a lot of great students, administrators, the Florida legislature, and board members that have continued to make Florida the best place in the nation to get a great education.
“Florida has grown dramatically over the past few decades and is now seen as ahead of the curve in economic indicators for growth,” he said. “Traveling the state, many people don’t know that our overall university system is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and when companies know, they know Florida is thriving with top talent. Students and families know that getting a great education for a great price, with minimal debt, and skills to prosper and adapt in a fast-changing workforce, there is no doubt the success of UF is tied to the success of our state – present and future.”
UF’s success augments the university’s existing momentum and positions the university to continue recruiting and retaining the best students, faculty, and staff while advancing meaningful research; building partnerships with other educational institutions, as well as corporations and foundations; and increasing support through philanthropic partnerships.
“UF’s commitment to excellence and continuous improvement has motivated and inspired all 12 of Florida’s public universities to strive for their very best,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Florida Board of Governors. “UF’s accomplishments elevate the entire State University System, which in turn elevate the state of Florida.
The public university ranking also parallels UF’s rise in other rankings. U.S. News ranked UF No. 9, tied with Stanford and Brown, for the best student outcomes among all public and private institutions. Additionally, U.S. News ranked UF on a prestigious list of the nation’s most innovative universities, as well as among the top schools on lists for undergraduate research and for veterans. In January, U.S. News also recognized UF Online as the No. 3 best online undergraduate program in the country.
More broadly, UF’s sweep of national accolades underscores its prominence nationally and internationally and reflects a rapid—and sustained—growth in the quality of the university, including measures such as student/faculty ratio, graduation and retention rates and the value of each student’s degree after graduation. With more than 80% of students at the top 10% of their high school class, UF has a retention rate of 97% and a six-year graduation rate of 89%, both among the highest in the country.
UF also offers an extraordinary return on investment, with more than two-thirds of its graduates entering the workforce with no debt. Overall, UF has reduced student debt by nearly 15% in the past four years and is consistently recognized as a top performer in the nation for social mobility. Taken together, the rankings represent an increasingly high value for students as well as a university impact that reverberates throughout Florida and around the country and globe.
“UF offers the benefits and experience of a large public university with an educational quality and research expertise that is on par with the nation’s most prestigious institutions,” said Mori Hosseini, chair of UF’s Board of Trustees. “This remarkable rise has not happened overnight. Today we celebrate a victory for the state of Florida, which, for the first time ever, is home to a top-five public university where groundbreaking research is underway to solve the world’s most pressing problems, and where our children and grandchildren can get an affordable, top-flight education right here in Florida.”
The recognitions by U.S. News symbolize an era of dramatic achievement for the university, which has tripled its research volume over the past two decades and is on the cusp of its goal to generate $1 billion in research expenditures annually. Further, UF has added more than 500 full-time faculty in the past two years—the most aggressive hiring plan in the nation—to bring preeminent faculty to teach and discover.
Moving forward, UF is launching a number of transformative initiatives which will increase its impact, such as its partnership with Silicon Valley-based technology company NVIDIA, to bring one of higher education’s most powerful supercomputers to UF to support its plan to be the first university in the country to integrate artificial intelligence, or AI, across the university’s entire curriculum. UF’s AI Initiative is expected to substantially elevate the university’s impact in teaching, research and workforce development and put Florida at the national forefront in an area widely anticipated to drive the global economy over the next several decades.
In addition, UF is developing a significant presence in South Florida, one of the most economically dynamic areas of the country. As part of that effort, UF is in discussions related to the acquisition of the Florida division of the Scripps Research Institute, considered to be one of the world’s premier biomedical research enterprises and ranked the most influential institution in the world for its impact on innovation and addressing the world’s most pressing health concerns. UF is also developing a permanent graduate and professional UF campus in West Palm Beach with a focus on FinTech.
“I want to express my gratitude and acknowledgement to all of the people in the UF community who contribute every day to a culture of hard work, passion, invention and discovery that will far outlast this ranking season and any other accolades,” Fuchs said. “It’s an honor for UF to be recognized, and it’s a pleasure to say with full confidence that our momentum will continue.”