Columbia University Ranking – Introduction
Interested in applying to Columbia University? You’ll likely want to learn more about the Columbia University ranking and how the school fits into Ivy League rankings. Forbes college rankings, US News college rankings, and Wall Street Journal college rankings all consistently list Columbia as one of the top colleges in the U.S. and the world.
Columbia University Background
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university located in New York City. Undergraduates at Columbia can choose from a wide range of majors and minors within three undergraduate colleges: Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The university stands out for its diverse student body, with students coming from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Many also recognize Columbia’s strong residential life program, with over 90% of undergraduates living on campus. Columbia offers a range of extracurricular activities, including over 500 student organizations, athletics, and community service opportunities.
Now that we have a better foundational understanding of Columbia University, let’s dive into the Columbia University ranking. We’ll look at the Columbia ranking in Forbes college rankings, the Columbia University Ranking in Wall Street Journal, and the Columbia University Ranking in US News. By looking at a variety of sources, we’ll help you better understand how Columbia University rankings change based on different criteria. This will give you a better picture of how to use the Columbia rankings when making your college list.
What is Columbia University ranked?
Columbia rankings, like those of every other school, are nuanced. They depend on a multitude of factors and will differ depending on where you look.
We will later discuss the relevance and methodology of three leading national college rankings sources, including the Forbes college rankings, US News college rankings, and Wall Street Journal college rankings.
Currently, according to the national US News college rankings, the Columbia Ranking is #18. Forbes college rankings place Columbia at #6. Additionally, the Columbia University rankings in the Wall Street Journal place the school at #16.
Later on, we will discuss trends in rankings and their specific methodologies in detail. However, it is important to note that Columbia University rankings have been a hot topic in recent news within the college ranking world. In fact, a recent scandal bumped the Columbia Ranking in US News down to #18 from its former spot among the top ten universities.
Is Columbia a Top Ten School?
Columbia has historically enjoyed a comfortable seat among the top ten college rankings nationally. However, this past year, the Columbia rankings plummeted to #18 in some sources due to false statistical reporting and a lack of transparency.
In basic terms, whether the Columbia ranking falls within the top ten schools nationally depends on where you look. However, if you aim to assemble a list of schools within the top ten college rankings from any major source, don’t discount Columbia based on the Columbia ranking in US News. The school retains its status as a respected, prestigious university.
In addition to its overall ranking, the Columbia University rankings are also especially high in specific disciplines and programs. For example, its graduate schools of business, law, and journalism are consistently ranked among the top in the country. Its graduate programs in the arts and sciences, engineering, and medicine are equally lauded.
Columbia University ranking among Ivy League schools
If you are interested in Columbia University ranking in the world, it’s likely that you are interested in its position within the Ivy League rankings.
US News places the Columbia rankings in 8th—last among the 8 Ivy League schools. So, according to this source, the Columbia ratings trail right behind Cornell University. However, according to US News for the 2022-2023 year, the Columbia University ranking in the world is highly competitive. The school sits in 7th place overall, trailing only one Ivy League school: Harvard University. Thus, when situated in a global context, we see the Columbia University ranking in the world shoot up dramatically.
Do college rankings matter?
In the grand scheme of things, Columbia rankings should be just one factor you look at when applying to college. As we will discuss later, you should focus more on the bigger picture as you research colleges.
Key factors include personal fit or specific programs that interest you. Considering that Columbia rankings recently deflated, refocusing on factors beyond the Columbia University ranking can help you form a balanced college list.
To dive a little deeper into what caused the Columbia rankings controversy in February of 2022, Columbia University mathematics professor, Michael Thaddeus, published a lengthy paper explaining the statistical discrepancies behind the reporting used to generate the Columbia ranking. Through his whistleblowing, US News ultimately dropped Columbia ratings by 16 places.
Columbia University rankings you can trust
The primary sources for Columbia University rankings include the Forbes college rankings, the Columbia University ranking in Wall Street Journal, and Columbia University ranking in US News.
These are largely considered the most trustworthy national college rankings. Below, we will explain a little more about why this is the case. We’ll also discuss what each source uses to create their Columbia University rankings.
US News College Rankings
US News calculates Columbia rankings using 17 indicators of academic quality across nine college ranking factor categories. These include graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and overall excellence.
The methodology starts with a set of schools US News defines as “National Universities” or “Liberal Arts Colleges.” US News divides these schools into four tiers based on their level of selectivity. US News then gathers data through a survey sent to each institution. The survey includes questions about the school’s academic programs, faculty, finances, and other characteristics.
After collecting the data, US News analyzes it according to the importance they place on each category. For example, graduation and retention rates carry the greatest weight, followed by faculty resources, student selectivity, and financial resources. Finally, US News generates the Columbia rankings based on their overall score.
Forbes College Rankings
Forbes calculates college rankings using a methodology that takes into account several factors. These include student satisfaction, post-graduation success, student debt, and overall value.
The methodology starts with a set of schools that Forbes defines as “America’s Top Colleges.” These schools are then ranked based on five categories: student satisfaction, post-graduation success, student debt, four-year graduation rate, and overall value.
Forbes gathers data from multiple sources including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, PayScale, and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. Forbes then uses a proprietary algorithm to create a “return on investment” (ROI) score for each school. The ROI score takes into account the total cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, and other expenses. It also looks at the earning power of graduates.
As you can see, there are several key differences between the Forbes and US News college rankings. These include the criteria used to evaluate schools and the data sources used to create the rankings. Additionally, US News ranks universities and liberal arts colleges separately, while Forbes ranks all colleges together.
US News gives more weight to inputs like graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, financial resources, and faculty resources. Forbes, however, focuses more on outcomes such as student satisfaction, post-graduation success, and student debt. These organizations also weigh data such as four-year graduation rate relatively equally.
Wall Street Journal College Rankings
The Wall Street Journal creates its college rankings by evaluating schools based on several key factors.
These factors include graduate outcomes, which measures the career success of graduates; resources, which looks at the financial resources available to students and the school as a whole; engagement, which measures the level of student engagement with their education and the resources available to them; and environment, which assesses the campus culture and the overall student experience.
To determine the rankings, the Wall Street Journal surveys a wide range of individuals. These include college presidents, chief academic officers, and deans of students. They also gather data from federal government sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and private organizations, such as the College Board. The data is then analyzed and used to rank schools based on the factors mentioned above.
Focus on educational outcomes
The Wall Street Journal’s college rankings are unique in that they focus on the outcomes and experiences of students rather than just the reputation or prestige of the school. This allows for a more holistic assessment of the schools being ranked.
Still, at the end of the day, many of the individuals reporting Columbia University rankings are university officials who have their own personal biases and agendas. Make sure that you assess Columbia University rankings on your own terms. Then, create your own opinions on the university based on the factors that matter to you—don’t just conform to the ones presented by leading national college rankings organizations.
It’s important to note that the Columbia University ranking in Forbes, the US News college rankings, and the Wall Street Journal college rankings are based on a set of criteria determined by each company. As such, they do not necessarily reflect the overall quality of education or fit for a particular student. You should always do your own research and gather as much information as possible when choosing a college.
What is Columbia known for?
Columbia’s Core Curriculum
Columbia University offers a wide range of undergraduate programs in a variety of disciplines. The undergraduate college is known as Columbia College and offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary study. The college is highly selective and has a rigorous academic curriculum. Required courses include the Core Curriculum, a set of required courses that provide a broad-based education in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and writing. The Core Curriculum is intended to give students a strong foundation in critical thinking, writing, and research skills. It also aims to expose them to a wide range of perspectives and ideas.
In addition to the Core Curriculum, Columbia College offers a wide range of majors and areas of study. These include traditional humanities and social science disciplines, such as English, history, and political science, as well as more specialized fields, such as environmental science, neuroscience, and urban studies. The college also offers a number of pre-professional programs, such as pre-med and pre-law. Additionally, it has strong connections to graduate and professional schools at Columbia, which can help students pursue advanced degrees and careers in a wide range of fields.
Student engagement and extracurriculars
Columbia College also has a strong tradition of student engagement and extracurricular activities, with a wide range of clubs, organizations, and student-led initiatives. The student body is diverse, with students from all over the world. Overall, the university has a strong commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive community.
In summary, Columbia University’s undergraduate program, Columbia College, offers an excellent liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary study and critical thinking, a rigorous academic curriculum, and a wide range of majors and areas of study. Its pre-professional programs and strong connections to graduate and professional schools can help students pursue advanced degrees and careers in a wide range of fields. It also has a strong tradition of student engagement and extracurricular activities, with a diverse student body and a commitment to inclusivity.
Columbia University Ranking Trends
In recent years, Columbia University has consistently been ranked among the top 10 universities in the United States by major college and university rankings. However, as discussed, in 2022, Columbia University rankings fell to #18. According to 2021 US News Columbia University rankings, Columbia University ranked #5 in the “Best Undergraduate Teaching” category and #6 in the “Most Innovative Schools” category.
National college rankings can fluctuate, and they depend on many different factors. However, it is highly unusual for a university to experience such a significant drop in rankings. As we have seen, Columbia qualifies as a special case due to discrepancies in reporting. However, you can generally expect a university to remain relatively stable between years in terms of its ranking.
What do Columbia rankings mean for me?
While Columbia rankings and acceptance rates can seem daunting, they are a small part of the application process. Rather than focusing on the Columbia rankings, think about the parts of your application you can control. This includes your personal statement and supplemental essays, which CollegeAdvisor can help you develop. These essays are even more important as colleges like Columbia become test-optional.
So, create a strategy for your application and listen to CollegeAdvisor Admissions Experts speak about their experiences at the university. This can help you feel more confident, regardless of the Columbia University ranking and any preconceived notions that come along with it. You should also ensure you maintain a competitive GPA to increase your odds in the admissions pool.
Whether Columbia University is your dream school or you’re just beginning the admissions process, CollegeAdvisor can serve as a great resource for you. We’ll support you from your initial college search and college comparison, all the way through to choosing which college is right for you.
For general advice and information about college admissions, talk to one of our College Admissions Experts today by clicking here.
Columbia University Rankings – Final Thoughts
Like any college rankings, Columbia University rankings are exposed to biases that inherently come with national college ranking systems. As you build your own college list, focus on what factors matter most to you in your college experience. At the end of the day, many of the metrics used by Forbes college rankings, US News College Rankings, or Wall Street Journal College rankings may not accurately reflect your specific college needs.
So, take college rankings with a grain of salt, and remember to prioritize your own needs. Use these sources to support (not dictate!) your understanding of the Columbia University rankings. This will help you the most as you create your college list.
This article was written by senior advisor, Deepak Kejariwal. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.