Today marks the publication of the U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 Best Colleges, and Southwestern is again acknowledged the #1 national liberal arts college in Texas. SU also moves from #2 to #1 for Best Value Schools in Texas among national liberal arts institutions.

This year, U.S. News and World Report introduced a social-mobility ranking for all schools. Schools were ranked according to how many students awarded federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes were less than $50,000 annually) graduated within six years. Southwestern ranked #2 among national liberal arts colleges in Texas and #63 in the U.S. in the social-mobility category.

In addition, the University appears on the unranked list of A+ Schools for B Students, a badge of quality based on the current year’s ranking combined with the average freshman retention rate—a widely accepted indicator of student satisfaction—and admission of students who did not necessarily achieve straight As in high school.

Southwestern is categorized as a national liberal arts college based on the Carnegie Basic Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The 199 private and 24 public institutions in this group focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education and award at least 50% of their degrees in the arts and sciences. The compilers of the popular college guidebook group schools into 10 different ranking categories to more fairly compare schools with similar missions. They surveyed 1,922 schools for the publication, ranking only regionally accredited institutions that offer four-year undergraduate degrees.

The U.S. News and World Report assesses colleges and universities based on differently weighted measures of academic excellence; their evaluations take into account such factors as admissions selectivity, student retention, average class size, per-student spending, the strength of the faculty, graduation rates, alumni employment outcomes, and alumni giving. The other factor determining rankings is academic reputation, which was assessed by surveying college presidents, provosts, and deans of admission. For the first time since 2003, the U.S. News also incorporated data on student academic programs, such as first-year experiences, internships, learning communities, service learning, study abroad, undergraduate research and creative projects, writing in the disciplines, and senior capstones. Unlike other college-ranking organizations, they do not rely on “unscientific” information such as residence hall tours, student polls, or recruiter interviews.

The 2020 edition of Best Colleges is accompanied by a searchable online directory of school profiles. Each university’s page includes the data used in its ranking, user reviews of the institution, and details about the application process, academics, price tag, campus life, safety and security, services, and postgraduate employment and salary outcomes.

U.S. News and World Report has been ranking colleges, graduate schools, and high schools since 1983. Available for preorder now, the Best Colleges 2020 guidebook begins shipping in early October and will be in stores on October 15.