MIT is tied with Stanford University for the #4-ranked national university, according to the 12th annual US News and World Report guidebook, "America's Best Colleges."
The guidebook, which hit newsstands and bookstores on Monday, names Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities the best national universities, all tied for #1.
The rating represents a shift up in the magazine's rankings for MIT, which ranked fifth or sixth for many years and last year held the No. 6 slot.
US News determines "Best College" status by comparing data on freshmen rates of retention and graduation, faculty resources, student selectivity, student-faculty ratio, class size, percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class and alumni/ae giving rates.
Academic reputation, the only subjective component of the rankings, is determined by surveying presidents, provosts and deans of admission about their opinions of their rival schools.
"While I am pleased that MIT is considered one of the most outstanding US universities, I believe that these rankings only take into account a small fraction of what makes each university a unique institution," said President Charles M. Vest. "MIT will continue to strive to excel in education and research with an innovative edge without regard to ratings such as these."
Other factors in the US News survey were alumni/ae giving (MIT came in eighth at 44 percent, similar to Harvard's 46 percent, higher than most in the top 25 but well below Princeton's 66 percent) and acceptance rate (25 percent for MIT).
Following MIT and Stanford are Cornell, Duke and the University of Pennsylvania at #6. Of the 162 national liberal arts colleges that USNews ranks, Amherst topped the list, followed by Swarthmore, Williams and Wellesley.
Other New England universities ranked by US News include Brown and Darmouth, tied for #10 with Columbia University; Tufts at #25; Brandeis at #31; and Boston College, tied with four others for #36. More information is available on line at the US News and World Report web site.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 26, 1998.