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These Mass. colleges were ranked among the best in the nation by US News & World Report

Harvard University.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

US News & World Report on Monday solidified a widely embraced local distinction: Massachusetts schools are wicked smart.

In its annual ranking of top colleges and universities, US News slotted seven Mass. schools in the top 50 for the category of national universities, and another six in the top 50 in the category of liberal arts colleges.

Harvard University was ranked No. 2 overall on the 2021 list of top national universities, just behind Princeton University, which scored the first spot. Harvard’s neighbor, MIT, trailed closely behind at No. 4 (Columbia was third). Further down the list, Tufts University, Boston College, Boston University, and Brandeis University came in at 30th, 35th, and 42nd, respectively, with BU and Brandeis in Waltham tied at 42nd. Northeastern University was ranked 49th.


UMass Amherst, ranked 66th, slipped slightly down the rankings from its 64th spot last year. The state’s flagship campus tied with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as well as Fordham University, George Washington University, and the University of Minnesota.

Here’s where Massachusetts national universities ranked:

2. Harvard University

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

30. Tufts University

35. Boston College

42. Boston University

42. Brandeis University

49. Northeastern University

66. University of Massachusetts Amherst

66. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

103. Clark University

133. Simmons University

176. University of Massachusetts Lowell

217. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

227. University of Massachusetts Boston

227. Western New England University

249. Lesley University

UMass Amherst. Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe/file

In the liberal arts category, Williams College took the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row, followed by Amherst College, which also scored its No. 2 spot for a repeat year. Wellesley College was ranked No. 4, followed by Smith College at No. 15, Mount Holyoke College at No. 34, and College of the Holy Cross at No. 36.

Here’s where Massachusetts national liberal arts colleges ranked:

1. Williams College

2. Amherst College

4. Wellesley College

15. Smith College


34. Mount Holyoke College

36. College of the Holy Cross

84. Wheaton College

113. Stonehill College

149. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

155. Gordon College

In the ranking of public universities, the University of California at Los Angeles took the first spot for its second year in a row. UMass Amherst placed 26th, tying with Texas A&M and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

MIT also placed No. 1 for the best undergraduate engineering program where doctorate is the highest degree. Stanford University took the No. 2 spot, tying with the University of California at Berkeley. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham took the No. 3 spot for best undergraduate engineering program where doctorate is not offered.

MIT also was recognized for its undergraduate business program, scoring the No. 2 spot behind the University of Pennsylvania, and tying again with the University of California, Berkeley.

MIT's campus.Erin Clark/Globe Staff/file

For entrepreneurship programs, Babson College in Wellesley placed No. 1, followed by MIT at No. 2.

In all, US News ranked more than 1,400 colleges and universities for its 36th edition of the list. The data used predates the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement.

To calculate the top schools, US News focused on academic quality and placed an emphasis on outcome measures — including graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility — with the “outcomes” category being the most highly weighted ranking factor at 40 percent. The rankings also considered faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (7 percent), and alumni giving (3 percent).


New this year were several methodologies that address student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies. US News also added a new ranking of computer science programs.

Visit USNews.com to explore the full list of ranked colleges and universities.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.