Three Maine liberal arts colleges rank among the top 25  in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, which released its annual rankings of colleges and universities Monday.

Bowdoin, Colby and Bates colleges each climbed higher in the rankings of the country’s most prestigious private schools, while the University of Maine dipped when compared to other public universities around the country.

Princeton University remains ranked first among all national universities while Williams College was named the top national liberal arts college for the 17th year in a row.

The University of California – Los Angeles repeated as the top public school among national universities this year.

In Maine, Bowdoin College in Brunswick ranked sixth – up one spot from last year – among national liberal arts colleges followed by Colby College in Waterville, which ranked 11th. Bates College in Lewiston was rated 21st out of 223 schools.

Last year, Colby tied for an 18th place ranking and Bates was 22nd.


Among 146 public universities nationwide, the University of Maine was rated 100th — down three spots from a 97th place ranking last year. Maine’s flagship public campus in Orono was tied for No. 202 among all U.S. universities.

Among other northern New England states’ flagship public schools, the University of Vermont ranked 55th among public universities and 121st among all universities.

The University of New Hampshire ranked 58th among public schools and 125th among national universities.

Other Maine schools in the rankings include the University of New England, rated 246th out of 399 national universities; and Maine Maritime Academy, which ranked 5th among 58 Northeast regional colleges.

U.S. News & World Report does not release individual rankings for schools that fall in the bottom 25 percent of categories but instead classifies those schools as being within a numerical range of rankings. That group includes the University of Southern Maine and St. Joseph’s College in Standish, both of which ranked between 129th and 170th among regional universities in the Northeast.

This year’s rankings looked at 1,400 schools from large research institutions with master’s and doctoral programs to liberal arts colleges and regional colleges that award less than 50 percent of their degrees in the liberal arts.


They are based on student outcomes such as graduation and retention rates; faculty and financial resources; ACT and SAT scores for incoming freshmen; alumni giving; and the opinions of experts such as admissions officers, presidents and provosts.

Critics say the rankings are based too much on prestige and wealth. In recent years that has prompted more attention to be placed on alternative evaluations such as those by Washington Monthly, which ranks colleges and universities on their contributions to social mobility, research and public service.

For the first time this year the U.S. News rankings include a new “top performers on social mobility” ranking, which uses federal Pell Grant data to look at the enrollment and graduation rates of low-income students.

On that metric, Husson University ranked 70th among all national universities; The College of the Atlantic ranked 25th among liberal arts colleges; and Thomas College ranked 8th in Northeast regional colleges for enrolling and graduating large numbers of disadvantaged students awarded Pell Grants.

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