Here Are the Colleges That Have Dropped Out of U.S. News Rankings

Harvard and Yale's respective law schools were the first to revolt against the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Now undergrad institutions – most recently Columbia University – are withdrawing as well.
portrait of Evan Castillo
Evan Castillo
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Evan Castillo is an associate writer on BestColleges News and wrote for the Daily Tar Heel during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He's covered topics ranging from climate change to general higher education news, and he is...
Updated on June 8, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Alex Pasquariello
Alex Pasquariello
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Alex Pasquariellois a senior news editor for BestColleges. Prior to joining BestColleges he led Metropolitan State University of Denver's digital journalism initiative. He holds a BS in journalism from Northwestern University....
portrait of Darlene Earnest
Darlene Earnest
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Darlene Earnest is a copy editor for BestColleges. She has had an extensive editing career at several news organizations, including The Virginian-Pilot and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also has completed programs for editors offered by the D...
Learn more about our editorial process
Image Credit: Pgiam / iStock Unreleased / Getty Images

  • Many schools said that the rankings do not accurately reflect their values.
  • The first schools to leave the U.S. News rankings were Harvard Law and Yale Law.
  • Critiques of the methodology include overemphasis on GPA and test scores and a lack of focus on need-based aid and loan forgiveness programs.
  • Law schools were the first to leave, then medical schools, and now five undergraduate institutions, including Columbia University.

Columbia University is the latest undergraduate school to abandon the U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) college rankings.

The Ivy League institution on June 6 announced its undergraduate school would no longer submit data to the rankings system. Its law and medical schools had previously stopped participating in their respective USNWR rankings.

The move is the latest blow to the influential rankings system after Harvard and Yale law schools withdrew in November 2022 because its "profoundly flawed" methodology disincentivized schools from helping disadvantaged students. Since then, some of the country's top law and medical schools, along with a slew of undergraduate schools, have abandoned the USNWR college rankings.

USNWR responded to the law schools in January 2023, announcing that it will adjust its methodology for ranking schools and made similar adjustments to its medical school rankings later that month.

In April 2023, USNWR preliminarily ranked and then un-ranked medical and law schools after pushback from schools. It released its final rankings for law and medical schools a month later, debuting rankings formulas that de-emphasize reputational surveys in favor of outcome measures.

In May 2023, it also changed the undergraduate rankings methodology to add measures related to diversity in place of factors such as class rank and alumni giving.

However, those adjustments have failed to stem the exodus from rankings as law school, medical schools, and now undergraduate institutions such as Columbia continue to drop out.

Here are the colleges and universities that have withdrawn from the USNWR rankings, including their ranking at the time, the date they withdrew, and some of their reasons for leaving.

Schools Withdrawn From U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Last Updated: May 9, 2023 at 4:33 P.M. EST

Law Schools

Chevron Down

Yale University

"This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses," Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken said. "It also pushes schools to use financial aid to recruit high-scoring students."

Stanford University

"For example, the US News ranking methodology inappropriately discourages public service by treating students whose schools provide fellowships to support such work much the same as it treats students who are unemployed," Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez said.

Harvard University

"In particular, we have raised concerns about aspects of the U.S. News ranking methodology (also highlighted by our colleagues at Yale) that work against law schools’ commitments to enhancing the socioeconomic diversity of our classes; to allocating financial aid to students based on need; and, through loan repayment and public interest fellowships, to supporting graduates interested in careers serving the public interest," said John Manning, Harvard Law dean.

Columbia University

"Overall, the methodology creates incentives that work against schools’ interest in attracting and retaining classes of students with a broadly diverse set of qualities and experiences, and in supporting the widest possible array of career choices for their graduates—whether in the private sector, in public interest and government organizations, or in academia," Columbia Law Dean Gillian Lester said.

University of Pennsylvania (Carey)

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Rank: #6
  • Withdrew: Dec. 2, 2022

"As has been expressed and discussed elsewhere, the current U.S. News ranking methodology is unnecessarily secretive and contrary to important parts of the Law School’s mission, including Penn Carey Law’s increasing investment in need-based financial aid and public interest lawyering," Penn Carey Law said in a statement.

New York University

"Of particular concern, the U.S. News methodology—through its debt and employment metrics—penalizes schools that support graduates pursuing public interest careers," NYU Law Dean Troy McKenzie said.

University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Rank: #8
  • Withdrew: Dec. 9, 2022

"Rankings can provide helpful guidance, and U.S. News has long aggregated data about law schools," said UVA School of Law Dean Risa Goluboff wrote. "That said, overreliance on a single source can distort decision-making, and any given ranking is only as useful as the relevance and accuracy of the comparative information on which it is based."

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky listed three reasons: Rankings penalize schools that emphasize public service law, disregards and disadvantages students pursuing advanced degrees, and rankings create incentives for deprioritizing things the school believes is critical.

University of Michigan

"Nonetheless, law schools to a greater or lesser degree sometimes are forced to consider the effect of any changes in their programs on their rank," Michigan Law Dean Mark D. West said. "While Michigan has consistently resisted the pressure to take actions that are contrary to our mission, the demands of the U.S. News algorithm always lurk in the background."

Duke University

"They create the wrong incentives by rewarding schools for the amount they spend, regardless of whether this money is spent directly on the student experience, rather than prioritizing outcomes that really matter to students, such as the long-term employment of graduates," Duke Law Dean Kerry Abrams said.

Northwestern University

"Over half of our faculty holds PhDs, and we offer a range of innovative joint degree programs and interdisciplinary courses," Northwestern Pritzker Law Dean Hari Osofsky wrote. "These educational opportunities prepare our students to lead in a rapidly changing legal environment. Yet the U.S. News rankings treat students who are in joint degree or other advanced degree programs as unemployed and disincentivize schools’ support for interdisciplinary education."

Georgetown University

"Because the U.S. News ranking system continues to encourage schools to pursue a vision of legal education that is at odds with the compelling educational values that define us as a community, Georgetown Law will no longer participate in the U.S. News law school rankings," Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor wrote.

University of California — Los Angeles

"The rankings disincentivize schools from supporting public service careers for their graduates, building a diverse student population, and awarding need-based financial aid," UCLA Law Interim Dean Russell Korobkin said.

University of California — Irvine

"How U.S. News has decided to approach its rankings and what it chooses to incentivize do not align with our values or our commitment to public service; nor is it what leaders in the top law firms, nonprofit and government organizations, corporations, and others that hire our students value," Dean and Chancellor's Professor of Law Austen Parrish said.

University of California — Davis

"The failures in the rankings methodology are too many to mention here but include: (1) the failure to treat public service fellowships that spawn public service careers as full employment; (2) the failure to fully account for the resources available at public law schools; and (3) the overemphasis on standardized test scores in evaluating student selectivity," wrote Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the law school.

University of Washington

"Instead of rewarding schools that emphasize public interest work, the methodology penalizes them," said Tamara F. Lawson, dean of the law school. "Instead of incentivizing increased student diversity, the methodology fails to capture the full merit of candidates."

Medical Schools

Chevron Down

Harvard University

"However, my concerns and the perspectives I have heard from others are more philosophical than methodological, and rest on the principled belief that rankings cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education programs," Dean of the Faculty of Medicine George Q. Daley wrote.

Columbia University

"The reasons for this decision principally include the selection of rankings criteria with implicit incentives misaligned with the highest goals of medical education," Chief Executive Officer Katrina Armstrong said. "They have been well described by thoughtful critics of this ranking system, and I need not elaborate on all of them here."

Johns Hopkins University

"The mission of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is to enroll diverse, academically outstanding students with a demonstrated interest in becoming healers and leaders in medicine and biomedical science," wrote Theodore L. DeWeese, interim dean of the medical faculty. "This goal reflects our commitment to the public trust, and it is not adequately assessed by the current measures used to rank medical schools."

University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Rank: #6 (tie)
  • Withdrew: Jan. 24, 2023

"We reached the decision to end our participation not because of concerns that these rankings are sometimes based on data that can be inaccurate or misleading, but because the rankings measure the wrong things," said J. Larry Jameson, dean of the medical school. "USNWR reinforces a legacy approach to training and a narrow, subjective perception of schools by their peers."

Duke University

"The USNWR rankings, based on limited data, do not reflect these values or our success in living up to them," the statement said. "The rankings convey nothing about the scientific creativity, the intellectual rigor, the culture of collaboration, the spirit of service, and the commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion that characterize the School of Medicine community."

Stanford University

"Ultimately, we believe that the methodology, as it stands, does not capture the full extent of what makes for an exceptional learning environment," said Lloyd Minor, dean of the medical school.

University of Washington

"The emphasis on prestige and reputation without any objective evaluation of the quality of education is discordant with our vision for the future of medicine," the statement said. "Similarly, the sole focus on standardized scores and grades does not reflect our holistic admission process and the importance of diverse life experiences."

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

"The rankings provide a flawed and misleading assessment of medical schools; lack accuracy, validity, and relevance; and undermine the school’s core commitments to compassionate care, unrivaled education, cutting-edge research, a commitment to anti-racism, and outreach to diverse communities," the statement said.

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Rank: #11 (tie)
  • Withdrew: Jan. 26, 2023

"As a medical school, we are constantly evolving and always striving for greater excellence because our highest and most important calling is to graduate doctors who are both highly trained and highly resilient, who can adapt to new realities and improve human health for everyone," said David H. Perlmutter, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs. "Commercialized rankings have not kept up with these transformations."

Cornell University (Weill)

"While medical schools share many common goals, we also have unique institutional cultures and missions, as well as different pedagogical approaches and opportunities," said Francis Lee, interim dean of the medical school. "Current USNWR rankings do not capture the breadth and depth of our educational offerings."

University of Michigan

"The fundamental problem is that an aggregated score, based on many different dimensions, cannot possibly help students or others evaluate institutions with respect to their individual priorities," said Marschall S. Runge, dean of the medical school. "Creating an overall ranking blurs each school's individual attributes into a single score or rank that only reflects priorities set by USNWR itself."

University of Chicago

"This decision is based on our judgment that the current methodology raises deep concerns about inequity perpetuated by the misuse of metrics that fail to capture the quality or outcomes of medical education for those who most need these data: applicants to medical school," said Mark Anderson, executive vice president for medical affairs."

Undergraduate Schools

Chevron Down

Rhode Island School of Design

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Rank: #3 in Regional Universities North; #22 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie)
  • Withdrew: Feb. 13, 2023

"Our educational model is predicated on three primary ways of learning: visual, material and intellectual," President Crystal Williams. "The value of our unique form of education can be seen and felt in the daily impact our students, alums, faculty and staff have on the world."

Colorado College

  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Rank: #27 in National Liberal Arts Colleges (tie)
  • Withdrew: Feb. 27, 2023

"U.S. News & World Report’s methodology, weighing the proportion of students with debt and the total amount of debt at graduation, creates incentives for schools to admit wealthy students who can attend without incurring debt," President L. Song Richardson said. "We cannot reconcile our values and our aspirations with these metrics or the behaviors they motivate."

Bard College

  • Location: Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
  • Rank: #60 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Withdrew: March 9, 2023

"The educational character and comparative merits of colleges cannot be distilled into a uniform numerical ranking," said President Leon Botstein. "Particularly one that does not take into account the curriculum and faculty and is based on flawed and irrelevant metrics, many of which concern only institutional wealth."

Stillman College

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Rank: #63 in Regional Colleges South
  • Withdrew: May 8, 2023

"However, there are organizations that do not accurately represent the impact that a Stillman degree has on the community, the state, and the nation," said President Cynthia Warrick. "Chief among these organizations is the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, which do not accurately measure and portray the value of a Stillman College education, nor the tremendous investments and outlook for our future, as we reshape our liberal arts profile to align with emerging workforce trends, like cybersecurity and data analytics."

Columbia University

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Rank: #18 in National Universities (tie), #16 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)
  • Withdrew: June 6, 2023

"...To that end, the university applauds U.S. News' recent announcement that it will change its undergraduate rankings methodology to focus on 'success in graduating students from different backgrounds.'

Yet we remain concerned with the role that rankings have assumed in the undergraduate application process, both in the outsized influence they may play with prospective students, and in how they distill a university’s profile into a composite of data categories.

Much is lost in this approach."