UCLA tops list of best public universities in US

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor drops to second place in Times Higher Education table 

October 24, 2017
University of California, Los Angeles
Source: iStock

View the top 100 public universities in the US 2018

The University of California, Los Angeles has topped a Times Higher Education table of the best public universities in the US.

UCLA overtakes last year’s leader the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to become the country’s top public institution in a new top-100 list based on the 2018 The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings.

The Californian university achieved a slightly higher score on student engagement compared with last year, while Michigan was hurt by a drop in its resources and outcomes scores (see methodology).

California is also the most-represented state in the top 10, claiming four places overall; University of California, Berkeley (fourth), University of California, Davis (sixth), and University of California, San Diego (seventh) join UCLA in this elite group.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (third), Purdue University (fifth), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (eighth), Georgia Institute of Technology (ninth), University of Texas at Austin (join 10th) and University of Virginia (joint 10th) complete the top 10.

But even the US’s best public universities fail to achieve the same success as the country’s leading private institutions in the WSJ/THE US College Rankings.

UCLA ranks 25th in the overall table, well behind its private neighbours Stanford University (joint third), California Institute of Technology (seventh) and the University of Southern California (joint 15th).

Just over one fifth (21) of the top 100 places in the US ranking are filled by public universities.  

Unlike the THE World University Rankings, which focus on universities’ research performance, the US table measures institutions’ student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments.

Top 10 public universities in the US

Public university rank 2018 WSJ/THE US College rank 2018 University City State
1 25 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles California
2 27 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan
3 33 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina
4 =40 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley California
5 43 Purdue University West Lafayette Indiana
6 46 University of California, Davis Davis California
7 47 University of California, San Diego La Jolla California
8 48 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign Illinois
9 53 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Georgia
=10 =56 University of Texas at Austin Austin Texas
=10 =56 University of Virginia Charlottesville Virginia

Access the full top 100


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Liberal arts colleges are often perceived as being elite and irrelevant. But the best among them excel in areas such as engagement and focus on critical thinking. Ellie Bothwell explores whether liberal arts education has become redundant – or simply needs a makeover

19 October


Featured jobs