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For 26 years, Cal Poly has ranked No. 1 on this list of top public universities

Cal Poly has been ranked as the No. 1 master’s-level public university in the West by U.S. News & World Report for the 26th straight year.

The university ranked 12th overall in the West for all regional universities and gained high marks for specialty engineering programs, according to rankings released Monday. The school was also named No. 1 Most Innovative School in the West in a survey of top college officials.

“Each of these rankings on its own is an honor; taken together, they paint a clear picture of how Cal Poly is succeeding in its mission to prepare students to be innovative leaders in their careers and solve real-world problems in a global marketplace,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “Our faculty and staff work diligently every day with our amazing students to create our renowned Learn by Doing environment. Their efforts are paying off.”

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Cal Poly was named Best in the West by U.S. News. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

U.S. News determines the scores by considering 16 variables, placing the heaviest weight on student outcomes like freshman retention and graduation rates. For the first time, this year’s rankings considered social mobility, measured by the school’s graduation rates for students who received federal Pell grants.

Universities that offer doctoral degrees, like those in the University of California system, are in a separate category. Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s programs, but few doctoral programs, according to U.S. News.

Cal Poly has a 78 percent six-year graduation rate — 73 percent of students who received a Pell grant and 84 percent of those who did not graduated from Cal Poly within six years.

For faculty resources, Cal Poly has a student-faculty ratio of 19 to 1, about 16 percent of the classes have fewer than 20 students and 13 percent have 50 or more students.

In the Most Innovative School ranking, top college officials in the region were asked to identify schools that are making the most innovative improvements to curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

Cal Poly placed high in several categories:

  • Tied for eighth with Cal Poly Pomona for best undergraduate teaching program in the West.
  • Eighth best master’s/bachelors engineering program in the nation, with specialty programs ranking No. 1 in computer engineering, No. 2 in mechanical, communications, and aerospace engineering, and No. 3 in civil engineering.
  • Sixth in the West for most veteran-friendly universities.

The top-ranked public schools nationwide this year are UCLA at No. 1, UC Berkeley at No. 2 and University of Virginia at No. 3.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930, @MonicaLVaughan
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