In the latest in a series of positive evaluations by the national media, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) placed higher this year among the nation's top colleges and universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, which were released today. The magazine also recognized the value of the WPI education, the university’s engaging, project-based curriculum, and its Global Projects Program, through which thousands of students have traveled to all corners of the globe to develop solutions to real-world problems.
In the 2010 edition of "America’s Best Colleges," U.S. News & World Report placed WPI 68th among the 262 "Best National Universities," three places higher than last year. WPI also moved up from 50 to 45 on the "Great Schools, Great Prices" list, which recognizes schools that offer exceptional value for their cost. In the overall rankings, WPI fared well compared to many larger universities, especially in the areas of percentage of classes under 20 (69 percent), full-time faculty with doctorates (92 percent), first-year student retention rate (92 percent), graduation rate (80 percent), and the study body quality (53 percent of WPI's first-year students were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class). WPI also continues to be ranked as a one of the nation's best undergraduate engineering programs in the category of "engineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate."
WPI's project-based curriculum and Global Projects Program received recognition in a special report titled "Programs to Look For," which highlights "outstanding examples of academic programs that are commonly linked to student success," according to the magazine. WPI won kudos in the "Senior Capstone Project" category, for its senior-year Major Qualifying Project (MQP), through which students gain real-world design or research experience within their major field of study; and the "Study Abroad" category, for WPI's Global Projects Program. At 26 Project Centers located all over the world, WPI students research and address local issues and develop an understanding of other cultures. All WPI undergraduates gain hands-on experience in tackling problems that involve science, technology, social issues, and human needs.
The "America’s Best Colleges" guide also includes interviews with Kristin R. Tichenor, WPI's vice president of enrollment management, on how students can take charge of their test scores and how to compile a stellar college application; and features a photo taken in a WPI robotics laboratory.
The U.S. News & World Report accolades come on top of a busy August for WPI, as the university was also ranked 20th out of 371 schools by The Princeton Review for being home to some of the "happiest students" in the nation, and was named a "Best Northeastern College." Also this month, a ranking compiled by Payscale.com recognizing colleges and universities that produce the best-paid graduates, placed WPI in the top 10 among all schools for highest starting median salary. This is the second year in a row that Payscale.com has placed WPI in the top 10.