UC Merced, Fresno State earn high rankings from U.S. News

The two Central Valley universities are receiving recognition for graduating high rates of students who are the first in their families to attend college.

U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of best colleges in the nation has given high praise to two UC Merced and Fresno State. 

UC Merced made a significant jump in the overall rankings, while Fresno State nears the top of the class in social mobility. 


Driving the news: Last year UC Merced ranked No. 97 in the best colleges list. Now the university has climbed up to No. 60, including a top 30 position among the nation’s public universities. 

  • UC Merced’s ranking is the highest in its 18-year history, and it’s 37-spot jump is the largest gain among all universities. 
  • Part of that gain is attributed to U.S. News putting more of a focus on social mobility, graduation rates, manageable debt and post-graduate success in its rankings this year. 
  • UC Merced ranked above UC Riverside (76) and UC Santa Cruz (82) among its fellow University of California schools. 
  • Fresno State, which has long been a favorite of Washington Monthly – ranking as the 26th best school in the nation by that publication – was recognized by U.S. News as the No. 8 university for social mobility. 
  • Last year Fresno State ranked 30th in that category. 
  • Overall, Fresno State came in at No. 185 out of nearly 1,500 campuses, but 12th best for electrical, electronic and communications engineering. 

What they’re saying: “Student success is our North Star, and it is rewarding that national organizations increasingly recognize this commitment,” said UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sanchez Munoz. “What has been built here, in the heart of California, is a testament to the faculty and staff, both past and present, who have worked tirelessly in their shared pursuit of student success.” 

  • Fresno State President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval said graduation day is very meaningful to him because the university is uplifting future leaders, many of which are the first in their families to attend college. 
  • “This high and significant ranking on social mobility is especially important for our students, their families and our region, as it means that Fresno STate allows our students to find the best versions of themselves, and in doing so, they become the leaders we all need in our Valley and the world,” Jimenez-Sandoval said.
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