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U.S. News ranks MIT engineering No. 1

As if there were any doubt, U.S. News & World Report today confirmed that MIT has the best undergraduate engineering program in the country.

U.S. News & World Report, which began ranking colleges in 1983, has been called "the mother of all college rankings."

MIT's top standing, ranked among peer institutions, will appear both in the magazine and in the 2006 edition of the magazine's annual college guide, "America's Best Colleges" on Monday, Aug. 22. All rankings went online (at early today.

MIT's Sloan School of Management was ranked second nationwide among undergraduate business programs. Sloan also received No. 1 ratings in four specialties: management information systems, productions/operations management, quantitative analysis and supply chain. Sloan was ranked fourth for entrepreneurship.

Overall, MIT was ranked seventh among national universities (Harvard and Princeton tied for first for the third year in a row). MIT, which tied Caltech this year, was fifth in the rankings last year. MIT's engineering school was No. 1 last year too.

The magazine used a number of criteria to determine overall ranking, including data collected from the schools, surveys of top academics, student retention rate, the school's commitment to instruction (which itself takes six factors into consideration) and selectivity.

MIT tied Yale for second for selectivity, after Harvard, and had a freshman retention rate of 98 percent, as high as any school listed.

Also notable was the Institute's fifth-place ranking in the "great schools, great prices" category. The magazine judged which schools offer the best value by relating academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. Caltech was ranked first in the value category.

Within engineering, MIT was ranked No. 1 for its programs in aeronautics and astronautics, chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, materials sciences and mechanical engineering. MIT programs also ranked in the top five in these U.S. News categories: biomedical/biomedical engineering, civil engineering, engineering science/engineering physics and environmental/environmental health.

Economic diversity was measured by the percentage of undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants, which are typically awarded to those with family incomes under $40,000. MIT was ranked fourth among private universities, with 14 percent of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants.

MIT also received a high score on a scale of racial diversity, meriting .65 on a diversity scale in which 1.0 was the highest score. To devise the scale, U.S. News factored in the proportion of minority students (not counting international students) and the general mix of groups in the student body.

MIT also merited attention within the category "programs to look for," which lists "schools with outstanding examples of academic programs that are believed to lead to student success." Within this category, MIT earned kudos for undergraduate research/creative projects and for "senior capstone," described as a project students are asked to complete near the end of their college years that "integrates and synthesizes what they've learned."

U.S. News & World Report rated graduate school programs in April. MIT's School of Engineering, Department of Economics and more than a dozen MIT departments or programs were named No. 1 at that time.

And last November, when The Times of London's Higher Education Supplement created its first World University Rankings, MIT placed third behind Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley.

American universities dominated the top of the list, with Caltech rounding out the top four. England's Oxford and Cambridge universities were ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Criteria used for The Times rankings included staff-to-student ratio, the number of times research papers published by academics were cited by colleagues, and the numbers of staff and students recruited from overseas.

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