SMU advanced to its highest ranking ever among national universities in the 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges.

SMU’s ranking increased 12 points — from 68 in 2010 to 56 in 2011 — among 262 institutions listed as national universities. SMU’s ranking of 56 puts it in the first tier of institutions included in the “best national universities” category.

The only universities in Texas ranked ahead of SMU in the 2011 guide are Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin. Among the factors weighed in determining the rankings, the key measures of quality are peer assessment (including high school counselor evaluations) graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Although ranking universities is a controversial venture at best, the recognition given our outstanding students and faculty, small classes, strong graduation rates and committed alumni is gratifying,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The timing is particularly relevant as we prepare to celebrate the University’s centennial, beginning next year, and as we remain committed to achievement at the highest levels.”

Rankings of more than 1,400 institutions, including national universities and liberal arts colleges, were posted online August 17 at usnews.com/colleges, and will be published in the U.S. News & World Report issue available on newsstands starting August 31.

The U.S. News rankings group schools based on the categories established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Over the past two decades, these rankings have served as research tools for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

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