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UC San Diego Ranked No. 1 Public University by Washington Monthly

Campus celebrated as a leader in social mobility, research and public service

The University of California San Diego has been ranked the top public university in the nation by Washington Monthly. Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego.


  • Amanda Rubalcava

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  • Amanda Rubalcava

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The University of California San Diego has once again been recognized as the number one public university in the nation by Washington Monthly based on the university’s contributions to social mobility, research and service. Over the past decade, UC San Diego has consistently achieved the top spot in this list of the country’s best colleges.

Released today, the publication’s 2020 College Guide and Rankings evaluates universities on 20 factors including graduation rate; first-generation performance; net price of attendance; the number of undergraduate students who go on to receive a Ph.D.; the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards; as well as student voting engagement. Overall, UC San Diego was number nine in the complete list of over 300 private and public universities in the nation.

“This prestigious ranking reflects the strides our campus has made to shape an inclusive future,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Not only do we believe that high-quality, affordable education should be accessible to all high-achieving students, but that it is crucial to invest in student-centered resources and programs that empower and support them to have the opportunities to flourish. These efforts, in combination with the university’s cutting-edge research and stellar faculty, work to solidify UC San Diego as one of the top-rated public research universities in the nation.”

An engine of social mobility, UC San Diego is dedicated to expanding access and educational opportunities to ensure students of all backgrounds can thrive on campus. For the upcoming fall 2020 quarter, the university has offered admission to more California residents and underrepresented students (including first-generation students and students from low-income households) than in years past. UC San Diego has designed various programs to help students on their journey from admission through graduation, including the Student Success Coaching Program which advises a cohort of first-generation incoming and continuing students through personal mentorship, community-building events, academic and co-curricular experiences and more. The Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program is also designed to support underrepresented groups throughout their undergraduate experience, providing high-achieving students with financial aid, academic support and mentorship opportunities

In addition to social mobility, the Washington Monthly ranking takes into consideration a university’s research expenditures and the prestige of its faculty. For FY2020 (July 1 – June 30), UC San Diego received $1.4 billion in sponsored research funding, reaching a new milestone for the fifth consecutive year. As a top-ranked public research university, UC San Diego is currently at the forefront of addressing the COVID-19 global public health crisis. Infectious disease researchers at UC San Diego Health have been studying the impact of the virus on HIV patients and how the pandemic affects this population. UC San Diego faculty members are also consistently recognized as leaders in their field. This July, Melvin Leok from the Department of Mathematics (Division of Physical Sciences) and Boris Kramer from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Jacobs School of Engineering) have been honored with the Newton Award for Transformative Ideas during the COVID-19 Pandemic and will receive funding for research that could revolutionize both civilian and military science.

Alongside its history of breakthrough research and innovation, UC San Diego encourages students to provide service to their community and the country. In the 2019-2020 school year, students had the opportunity to join over 580 registered student organizations—more than 90 of which were dedicated to providing service. UC San Diego has also celebrated its annual Day of Service since 2002, an enduring tradition where students can volunteer their time to make an impact in the local community through beautification projects, area cleanups and more.

Even amid the coronavirus, pandemic-related disruptions are proving no barrier for dedicated students who strive to create positive change around the world. UC San Diego’s Center for Student Involvement currently connects students to virtual short-term community service opportunities where they can continue making a difference from home. Campus community members can lend their skills and talents to volunteer activities such as remotely tutoring K-12 students and writing letters to seniors.

To read the complete 2020 Washington Monthly College Rankings and Guide, visit the outlet’s website. For more UC San Diego rankings, visit the Campus Profile.

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