Two Florida colleges, the University of Miami and the University of Florida, are now considered among the 50 best in the country, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
Florida State University also earned its best ranking in more than a decade, moving up six spots to No. 91, according to the publication's guide to Best Colleges released Tuesday.
UM remained the state's top school for a fourth year, despite falling three spots to No. 47. UF was close behind at No. 49, returning to the Top 50 – generally considered the top tier -- for the first time since 2009. Last year, UF ranked 54th.
The U.S. News rankings are closely watched by college administrators, students and high school guidance counselors. The rankings can affect a university's prestige as well as the quality of its applicants, university officials say.
On the list of best public universities, UF jumped three spots to No. 14, while FSU climbed two spots to No. 40. Officials say they are happy because deep budget cuts from 2007 to 2012 had hurt the universities' abilities to score well on such categories as student-faculty ratio and financial resources.
"University faculty, staff, students and supporters helped pull UF through five difficult years of a down national economy and state budget cuts," UF Provost Joseph Glover said. "UF's national ranking is in large part due to their efforts and reflects our continued quest to increase our standing among the nation's top public universities.''
FSU officials say they plan to keep climbing.
"Our goal is to invest in academic excellence and student success," FSU President Eric Barron said. "We expect this investment will be reflected in national rankings, where our goal is to be among the Top 25 public universities."
UM officials say they, too, are pleased with their ranking. They said the "peer ranking," where university administrators rate the quality of other schools, has been climbing.
"We have taken strategic steps to improve student selectivity, retention, and graduation rates, all of which are reflected in the U.S. News and World Report data," UM spokeswoman Liz Amore said.
The University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida also were ranked, tying at 160. Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University and Lynn University placed in the bottom third of national universities, but U.S. News doesn't release their specific rankings.
Princeton University, which tied Harvard as last year's top university, remained in first place this year. Harvard slipped to No. 2.
email@example.com or 561-243-6637