UC Berkeley ranked 4th-best university in the world

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Audrey McNamara/File

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U.S. News & World Report ranked UC Berkeley as the fourth-best university in the world out of 1,250 schools, with a global score of 90.8.

U.S. News has been ranking universities within the United States for more than three decades, according to U.S. News chief data strategist Robert Morse. Morse said in an email, however, that the company began to rank universities internationally in 2014 because people are beginning to look more globally for their education. The Best Global Universities rankings are based on 13 indicators, such as citations of research and conferences, which measure the reputation of each school and its research performance.

Along with being ranked fourth overall, UC Berkeley ranked highly in specific subject areas, coming in first in chemistry, first in environment and ecology, third in physics, third in space science, fourth in plant and animal science, fourth in economics and business, fourth in biology and biochemistry and fifth in mathematics.

“The University of California–Berkeley scored very highly in the research performance metrics U.S. News used, such as reputation, highly cited papers and papers in the top 10% most cited,” Morse said in his email. “In addition, UC–Berkeley was in the top 10 in 13 of the 22 subject rankings and in the top 5 in 8 of them. This very high ranking in so many subjects was the key contributor to the university’s 4th place overall rank.”

According to campus spokesperson Michael Dirda, this kind of ranking increases the number of applications UC Berkeley receives because of more global recognition, which allows the campus to admit a stronger class. Dirda added in an email, however, that prospective students should look at a large array of factors before applying to a school.

Of the top five universities on the list, four are located within the United States. Berkeley is ranked directly after Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Two hundred twenty-seven of the universities listed are U.S. schools.

Campus students, including freshman Rae Kilby, junior Jennifer Xie and senior Sierra Abasolo, said they were happy with the recognition.

“I think it’s a good thing for our school to be recognized publicly for the level of academic achievement we have here,” Xie said.

Dirda said in his email that UC Berkeley will publish a strategic plan later this fall, which will provide a framework for the campus for the next 10 years. Its goal is to make sure that UC Berkeley continues to pursue large issues facing the world today, address pressing global needs and serve California and the global community.

“Berkeley is an academic powerhouse with great depth and great breadth,” Dirda said in the email.  “This comprehensive excellence, coupled with our public service mission, makes Berkeley unique even among the world’s best research universities.”

Staff writer Julie Madsen contributed to this report.

Contact Boyce Buchanan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @BuchananBoyce.