Skip to Content

University of Denver Soars in Top College Rankings

Back to News Listing


Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

DU rises to #80 in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings for 2021

News  •
Mary Reed

The University of Denver is one of three universities previously ranked among the country’s top 100 colleges by U.S. News & World Report to experience double-digit gains in 2021. Today, the publication released its list of the nation’s Best Colleges, with DU ranking 80th out of about 400 national universities. This represents an improvement of 17 spots from just a year ago. DU is the highest rated institution in Colorado.

The University of Denver’s overall score improved from 52 to 63. Additionally, the University’s peer assessment score increased from a 3.0 to a 3.1.

U.S. News & World Report uses six categories for determining rankings: outcomes, faculty resources, expert opinion, financial resources, student excellence and alumni giving. U.S. News collected data on more than 1,800 institutions; more than 1,400 schools were ranked.

Forty percent of a school’s overall ranking is determined by its “outcomes” score, which considers several factors, including success in retaining and graduating students in six years. DU maintained its overall ranking of 98 from last year.

Faculty resources comprise 20% of the overall ranking. This category considers class size, faculty salary, faculty with the highest degree in their fields and proportion of faculty who are full time. DU’s ranking in this area increased dramatically from 2020, rising to 32 from 77. Equally as important to the overall ranking is the category of expert opinion. DU’s improved peer assessment score of 3.1 contributed to the University’s improved ranking.

“It is rewarding to see our peers recognize the amazing work being accomplished by our students, faculty and staff,” says Chancellor Jeremy Haefner. “So much of everything we do is focused on furthering our faculty’s research and achieving the best possible outcome for our students. With this in mind, we are able to exceed the national average for students being either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduating.”

In addition to its stature in the overall rankings, the University of Denver placed in the top 100 in several other categories. DU ranks 24th in the category of Academic Programs to Look For – Study Abroad. This category ranks different university programs that have been proven to contribute to student achievement. DU’s success in study abroad is made possible by the Cherrington Global Scholars international study program. Thanks to this program, more than 70% of students spend at least one term studying in another country.

DU ranks 50th in the category of Best Colleges for Veterans, an improvement of 13 spots from last year. A university qualifies for this list if it has enrolled a minimum of 20 veterans and active service members for four consecutive years, is certified for the GI Bill, and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Universities participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program make additional funds available for veterans attending an out-of-state or private institution.

The University of Denver ranks 58th among Best Value Schools, up seven spots from last year. This category takes into consideration a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average need-based scholarship or grant. Forty-three percent of students receive need-based aid at DU.

College presidents, provosts and admissions deans participating in the peer assessment surveys were asked to nominate 15 schools with a strength in undergraduate teaching for the Best Colleges ranking category. The result was a list acknowledging Best Undergraduate Teaching. On this list, DU ranked 61st among national universities.

Finally, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Daniels College of Business 97th on the list of Best Undergraduate Business Programs. This ranking is based on program accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; the results are based solely on surveys of business school deans and senior faculty.

U.S. News 2021 Rankings