Niagara University leaped 11 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of “America’s Best Colleges,” securing the number 32 position in “Best Regional Universities – North.” That’s up from last year’s ranking of 43, and a dramatic climb from the university’s 2013 standing of number 70. In addition to the overall ranking, Niagara is also recognized in the “Best Value,” “A+ Schools for B Students,” “Foreign Student Factor,” and “Best Colleges for Veterans” categories, as well as in a new category of “Social Mobility,” which measures the graduation success of Pell Grant recipients.
“We are pleased that the excellent quality of Niagara University’s academic programs and our commitment to affordability and accessibility continue to be praised by U.S. News & World Report and other ranking publications,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “More importantly, and regardless of the rankings, we look closely at the key performance indicators outlined in our strategic plan, which enable us to move toward the highest standards of excellence in student engagement and services.”
Niagara University’s commitment to academic excellence and student outcomes, which is driven by its strategic plan, has led to its jump in the U.S. News rankings. The university’s six-year graduation rate improved 6 percentage points over the past four years and, at 72.7%, is the highest among independent colleges and universities in the Buffalo-Niagara region. It is also among the top 25% of colleges and universities nationwide. The university has continued to increase the number of classes with 20 or fewer students and improve the average freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and the academic quality of the incoming freshman class.
- Best Value – NU is once again among the regional institutions deemed a “Best Value,” a calculation that takes into account a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. Niagara is ranked 7 out of the 75 schools listed in the category, which is especially remarkable in light of the fact that NU’s undergraduate students studying in Canada (BPS program) negatively impact the university’s ranking in this section.
- A+ Schools for B Students –Niagara is once again listed among the schools noted as “A+ Schools for B Students,” which highlights schools that admit a good proportion of “non-A” students (based on SAT/ACT scores and class standing) and allow them to thrive at the university level.
- Best Foreign Student Factor –Niagara is the only institution in the Buffalo-Niagara region in the ranking group for “Best Foreign Student Factor.”
- Best Colleges for Veterans – Niagara University is once again listed as a “Best College for Veterans,” which recognizes institutions that participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty service members pay for their degrees. Niagara has also been recognized by Victory Media (as one of the country’s top 10 small private schools for American military veterans and their families) and College Choice (“50 Best Colleges for Veterans”) for its work with veteran students.
- Social Mobility – This new ranking measures the graduation success of Pell Grant recipients and is based on Pell graduation rates, the proportion of students who receive Pell, and the comparison to graduation rates of non-Pell recipients. Niagara was the highest ranking independent school from the Buffalo-Niagara region on the list.