UC Berkeley is back on top as the number one public school in the nation after being ranked second since 2020, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022–23 rankings.
This year, UC Berkeley moved up to tie with UCLA for the top position, with all nine UC campuses among the top 50 public schools. UC Berkeley also ranked 20th among all universities in the United States.
“It’s great news and is a reflection of the outstanding work of our faculty, students and staff,” campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email. “Year after year, Berkeley regularly remains in the top tier of various rankings, and rightly so.”
U.S. News’s ranking was based on 17 main factors, according to U.S. News chief data strategist Robert Morse. UC Berkeley ranked fourth in outcomes — a combined score of graduation rate performance, social mobility, graduate indebtedness and graduation and retention rates — which accounted for 40% of the ranking weights, according to Morse.
Morse noted that UC Berkeley was among the best 5% of national universities for graduate indebtedness and graduation and retention rates, which helped boost its rankings.
Many of UC Berkeley’s programs also ranked among the top, with computer science, business and engineering being ranked first, second and third, respectively.
While David Wagner, chair of UC Berkeley’s computer science division, said he was “proud and honored” to be part of a top-ranked program, he also cast doubt on the value of rankings altogether.
“They’re a bit artificial, arbitrary,” Wagner said. “They have some info, but I don’t put too much weight on the ranks.”
Despite his skepticism, Wagner noted a few “unusual” factors that likely set the department apart.
Unlike other schools, UC Berkeley’s computer science and electrical engineering programs are combined into one department to break down barriers between the people who build computer chips and those who use them, according to Wagner. Additionally, he emphasized the prominent and “successful” role of undergraduates in teaching for the computer science department.
“I think our secret sauce is unusual collaboration between faculty students and staff,” Wagner said. “Students make a tremendous contribution to our teaching.”
While ASUC President Chaka Tellem said he recognized why some might be critical of the rankings, he said they were still valuable to quantify the strengths and weaknesses of different universities. UC Berkeley’s ranking accurately reflects its students’ success during their time on campus and after graduation, he noted.
However, Tellem added that achieving the top ranking is not an end in itself.
“Just because we’re number one doesn’t mean we’re done making the campus better,” Tellem said. “In order to maintain that … we need to be constantly critical of the status quo and understanding what we can do to make campus an even better place.”