Georgetown University faced mixed results in the 2020 college rankings released Monday by the U.S. News & World Report, losing ground in the overall national ranking while rising in the undergraduate programs category.
The university, ranked 24th in the United States, is down from being tied for 22nd place last year but remains the highest-ranked institution of higher education in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the rankings.
While the rankings provide one way to measure the relative standing of a university, they do not fully represent the success of a university, according to Georgetown Provost Robert Groves.
“Georgetown continues to be ranked among the top 25 universities nationwide by U.S. News and World Report and in the top 15 by Forbes,” Groves wrote in an email to The Hoya. “While Georgetown is pleased to be recognized with strong rankings across multiple outlets, we believe it is important not to place too much emphasis on these rankings since they only represent certain dimensions of a University’s success.”
In the Forbes college rankings released August, Georgetown dropped three spots, down to 15th from 12th the year before.
In addition to the change in the national rankings, Georgetown’s undergraduate programs were ranked 10 spots higher than last year, up to 16th place from 26th place.
The higher ranking is a result that will bring more visibility to the university and its student-centered mission, according to Georgetown College Dean Christopher Celenza.
“Georgetown is a special place, where faculty who are leaders in their research fields make sure to be in the classroom with students,” Celenza wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In recent years, there has been increased focus on bringing undergraduate students into the research experience, so that students are learning actively, by doing.”
Georgetown increased in rankings in recent years as spring 2019 nationwide and global surveys ranked the McCourt School of Public Policy and the McDonough School of Business highly, with the MSB named first in the world for having the best-trained MBAs.
The rankings are encouraging signs, and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions focuses on rises and falls primarily because of how they can impact potential applicants’ understanding of Georgetown, Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon (CAS ’64, GRD ’69) said in an interview with The Hoya.
“We tend over the years not to worry about it much,” Deacon said. “We do worry about it from the point of view that there are some kids in our pool or nationally who go to big schools with not much high school counseling and don’t know us that well and they may tend to be more influenced by the rankings.”
Princeton University topped the U.S. News rankings this year, followed by Harvard University in second place, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University and Yale University tied for third place. Georgetown was ranked highest in the D.C. area, while Howard University and George Mason University both dropped over 15 spots from last year’s rankings.
The U.S. News rankings take into account a range of factors to determine the rankings, including alumni donations, SAT and ACT scores of applicants, and the perceived prestige of the universities.
On the admissions side, Deacon said the Georgetown applicant pool has been growing stronger in terms of standardized test scores, which are usually reflected in the rankings.
“We have had good support from President DeGioia and the board in terms of our policies, which really admissions wise, as I say they may not be more than five or 10 percent of that ranking comes from admissions stuff, SAT averages, those are pretty good,” Deacon said.
For its 2020 list, U.S. News implemented new ranking criteria that heavily weighed social mobility and graduation outcomes. Forbes uses a different methodology, heavily weighing outcomes such as alumni salary, student satisfaction, student debt after college and other measures of success to determine the rankings.
While the rankings show mixed results, the university is concentrating on students’ academic satisfaction as well as postgraduate outcomes, according to Groves.
“We are focused on the success of our students, the scholarship and research of our faculty members, and how we advance our mission each day,” Groves wrote.