After long climb in US News rankings, Northeastern drops

Northeastern University fell five spots in US News and World Report’s latest college rankings.
Northeastern University fell five spots in US News and World Report’s latest college rankings.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File

Northeastern University, which in recent years has rocketed through the college rankings compiled by US News & World Report, saw its fortunes turn a bit as it fell five spots in the latest edition of the widely read list.

Northeastern, which came in at No. 47 this year among national universities, was the only Massachusetts university in the top 50 to see its ranking decline since last year. The school ranked at No. 98 in 2007, according to its website, and had not declined in a ranking since. It was No. 42 last year.

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun said it is focused on setting itself apart through programs like the school’s cooperative-education program, which combines classroom study with real-world work experience. “We never work for any ranking,” he said. “Rankings are the by-product of the strategy, and we’re very happy.”


Princeton secured the top spot among national universities. Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the only two local ones in the top 10, maintained No. 2 and No. 7 rankings from 2015. Tufts University, Boston College, and Brandeis University followed at No. 27, No. 30, and No. 34.

Boston University, which tied with Northeastern at No. 42 in 2015, rose to No. 41.

Eleven in Massachusetts are in the 203 top universities. Two University of Massachusetts campuses made it, Amherst at 75 and Lowell at 156.

The state was also well represented in the rankings of top liberal arts institutions: Williams College was No. 1, followed by Amherst College. Wellesley was tied for fourth.

Among top US public universities, UMass Amherst moved up a spot to No. 29.

In other sub-lists, Babson College remained No. 1 in entrepreneurship and 29th among best business programs in the country.

The annual rankings are based on several measures, including assessment of excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance, and alumni giving.


The rankings of national universities and national liberal arts colleges include input from academic peers and high school guidance counselors.

How Massachusetts colleges and universities ranked
National universities
School 2016 ranking 2015 ranking
Harvard University 2 2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7 7
Tufts University 27 27
Boston College 30 31
Brandeis University 34 35
Boston University 41 42
Northeastern University 47 42
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 57 68
Clark University 75 76
University of Massachusetts Amherst 75 76
University of Massachusetts Lowell 156 156
National Liberal Arts Colleges
School 2016 ranking 2015 ranking
Williams College 1 1
Amherst College 2 2
Wellesley College 4 4
Smith College 14 19
College of the Holy Cross 32 34
Mount Holyoke College 35 41
Wheaton College 67 69
Stonehill College 116 105
Gordon College 158 139
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Not listed 165
SOURCE: US News and World Report

Laura Krantz of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.