Utah colleges, including the University of Utah, Westminster College, Brigham Young University and Weber State University, have landed spots on one of the nation's most popular college-and-university ranking publications.

U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges, which hits newsstands Monday and is available online today, puts the U. among the best national universities and Westminster as one of the best places to get a master's degree, as well as a good deal for students' money.

The U.'s College of Engineering is listed as the 70th-best program of its kind in the nation, and the U.'s service learning program is noted as one of the magazine's "programs to look for," noting significant student success.

"The University of Utah is working to improve the quality of education for its students and is steadily increasing the number of engineering graduates," said U. Engineering Dean Richard B. Brown. "We are doing our part to meet the huge demand for engineers in Utah's growing high-tech economy."

Brown credits the program's success to efforts of Utah's engineering initiative, which provides much-needed resources to the program.

U. students also are noted as having the least amount of debt upon graduation — only 41 percent hold an average of nearly $14,000 when compared to their national counterparts. Parents' loans are not included in the survey.

A skip south along the Wasatch Front, Westminster College is being hailed as one of the West's best deals, offering students a quality academic experience for their money. The private, liberal arts school ranks 13th out of 15 schools in the Western states for amount of grant money and financial aid given to students.

Westminster also earned a spot as No. 19 in the category of "Best Universities - Masters," which rates schools based on degree options. The school boasts a 77 percent freshman-retention rate and 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, as well as a 57 percent graduation rate.

Westminster President Michael Bassis said he is pleased to be ranked by the publication, but he encourages prospective students to consider more when deciding facets of an education.

"We understand that this particular publication is important to prospective students and their parents, but we also realize that the rankings are not fully representative of the type of learning that actually occurs once a student enters college," he said, adding that readers should look at individual learning environments, accessibility of faculty, campus communities and the outcomes achieved by graduates.

Weber State University landed a spot on the list as the 53rd best place to earn a degree, boasting a 71 percent student-retention and a 41 percent graduation rate. Southern Utah University also was mentioned on the list, but it wasn't ranked.

Brigham Young University again placed among the best national universities, offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree possibilities, also emphasizing research. U.S. News, using categories developed by the Carnegie Foundation, groups 262 schools as national universities, and BYU ranks 113th. The private university ties with Texas Christian University and the University of New Hampshire.

The U. ranks 127th on the same list, tied with New Jersey's Institute of Technology and the University of San Francisco.

The Marriott School of Business at BYU's Provo campus is noted as one of the best programs in business academia, ranking No. 35 in the country, with its accounting program earning fourth place in the nation.

U.S. News provides the rankings to give higher-education seekers an idea of what they'll find at various schools. The data presented are compiled using quantitative measures by experts as well as what the publication calls a nonpartisan view of what matters in education. Lists are compiled including statistics and surveyed information, including peer assessments and other rating scales.

Harvard, Princeton and Yale often top the list, as they have been around the longest, collect the most money and maintain a great deal of selectivity, according to the report. More on the publication can be found online at usnews.com/colleges.


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