Clemson University has made the Top 25 National Public University in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of “America’s Best Colleges” for the ninth year in a row.

Clemson ranked as the 23rd National Public University in the latest rankings released Tuesday, down from a three-way tie for 21st in 2016. The university’s overall rank among national universities fell from 61st in 2016 to 66 this year.

Two years ago, Clemson cracked the Top 20 among public universities for the first time, 15 years after former President James Barker first set the goal.

U.S. News’ rankings have been both lauded by some – mostly colleges that do well and their alumni — and criticized by others who say the rankings are subjective, subject to manipulation and largely ignored by most students.

U.S. News uses graduation and retention rates; class size; average admissions test scores of incoming students; proportion of professors with the highest degrees in their field; proportion of full-time professors; faculty pay; spending on instruction, research and student services; alumni giving; proportion of first-year students who were in the top 10 percent of their high school class; and undergraduate academic reputation as determined by college presidents, provosts and high school counselors to determine rankings.

The U.S. News & World Report’s “Best College” guide includes information on more than 1,800 colleges and universities, of which 1,374 are ranked.

Clemson’s undergraduate business program tied for 63rd with 13 other universities. Its engineering program was ranked 53rd overall and 30th among public universities with engineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate. Clemson was ranked 41st among best colleges for veterans.

One of Clemson’s 2020Forward strategic plan’s goals is to return to Top 20 status.

In other rankings:

The University of South Carolina ranked 35th among national universities in the ranking’s “A+ Schools for B Students” list. That list is for students with less than stellar college admission test scores or so-so high school GPAs. USC landed in a four-way tie for 107th on the national university ranking. USC was also recognized for its learning communities.

Furman University ranked 53rd among national liberal arts colleges, two spots below last year’s ranking. Furman was recognized for its undergraduate research and creative projects. Wofford College ranked 77th in the same category. Presbyterian ranked 119th, five places better than last year.

Among Southern regional public universities, The Citadel ranked first and the College of Charleston ranked fourth. Converse College ranked 31st among Southern regional universities overall. North Greenville University ranked 84th, tied with Francis Marion College.

Erskine College ranked third among national liberal arts colleges for the least student debt. USC Upstate ranked third among national colleges in the same category.

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