It's a Three-peat: UCR Again Tops Social Mobility Ranking

U.S. News & World Report names the university No. 1 in the U.S. for third consecutive year
By John Warren |

For the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has named UC Riverside the top university in the nation for social mobility.

The social mobility category considers the degree to which a university elevates its low-income graduates to a higher standard of living. As rankings leaders such as U.S. News have adjusted their formulas in the past few years, they increasingly consider social mobility among the leading measures of higher education success.

“Three in a row has a ring to it,” said UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. “What it tells us is that UCR is unquestionably the higher education leader for social mobility, an important measure that means we are providing people the tools to lead fuller lives.”

The campus climbed five places this year in the overall rankings, to No. 83. It was the biggest gain among the nine UC undergraduate campuses this year. In the past five years, UCR has moved up 41 places in the U.S. News rankings.

In its social mobility ranking, U.S. News aggregates two factors that assess the graduation rates of students who receive the Pell Grant, typically awarded to families earning less than $65,000 per year. The factors are Pell Grant six-year graduation rates and Pell Grant graduation rate performance, which considers grant recipients’ graduation rates relative to non-Pell Grant recipients’ rates. UCR's Pell Grant students graduate at a higher rate than non-Pell students, 77% to 76%, according to the most recent federal data available.

Among UCR’s more than 26,000 students, 47% receive a Pell Grant.

"UCR’s consecutive placements as a national leader in social mobility showcase the hard work of our students and the dedication of our faculty and staff," Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education Jennifer Brown said. "It is encouraging that social mobility has become a leading indicator in college rankings, as it signals a movement toward looking at the whole student. It recognizes that all students deserve equitable outcomes in which they are successful entering and finishing college and moving on to amazing opportunities."

UCR moved up substantially in U.S. News' “Most Innovative Schools” category, to No. 26. This past year, UCR was No. 42. A high placement in the category is particularly notable because the ranking is based on nominations from university presidents, provosts, and admissions deans. The university administrators are asked to nominate up to 15 peer universities they believe are making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, or facilities.

Recently, Washington Monthly magazine released its 2021 rankings, naming UCR No. 1 in the nation for Pell Grant performance. UCR graduated the second-most Pell Grant students in the country, according to federal data from the most recent cohort considered.