skip page navigationOregon State University

Archives: August, 2009

Rankings: Now you see ’em, now you don’t  August 21st, 2009

OSU has been ranked in the third tier of the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings of “America’s Best Colleges” report for years, and is once again this year. But exactly where we’re ranked is a bit of a mystery because U.S. News has traditionally only supplied numerical rankings for their top tier (really, a combination of the top 50 with a second tier that oddly has never been identified as such). Given the ubiquitous nature of the rankings and the obsessive way that media and those who work in higher education follow them, it’s always been frustrating not to know where our university stands.

Until now. Kind of.

In making the new rankings publicly available on its Web site yesterday,the magazine apparently unintentionally made numerical rankings and overall scores available for schools beyond the top tier. OSU ranked no. 137 out of 262 “national universities” in the report; OSU’s overall score was 31 (no easy way to explain that — for more information, visit

Other Pac 10 campus rankings ranged from Stanford (no. 4) to Arizona State (no. 121). Oregon tied for 115, down from 108 in last year’s report.

When we revisited the U.S. News site this morning, however, OSU’s rank and overall score had vanished. This put us in an awkward position, given that several media had already published stories on the ranking that now could no longer be corroborated on the U.S. News site.

A query to the magazine yielded this response from Robert J. Morse, director of data research: “The ‘compare report’ functionality was changed  this morning so a school’s numerical rank only shows up if it’s the top half of its category, otherwise only its tier shows up.” This apparently applies to overall scores, as well.

Not the answer we were hoping for, but, thankfully, we printed out yesterday’s results. For the record, all of the top 20 institutions in the U.S. News rankings are private, as are the bulk of the top 50. If one removes all private universities from the list, which have not suffered the deterioration in public funding that state universities have over the past three decades, OSU comes in at a much more respectable — and arguably more appropriately comparable — no. 71.