U.S. News: Mason ranks highly for diversity, innovative learning

George Mason University was ranked as one of the nation’s top institutions for diversity, innovative learning and a campus atmosphere that allows its students to thrive, in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings, released Monday.

For a second consecutive year, Mason is the top-ranked institution in Virginia for campus diversity and tied for 25th nationally. Mason also tied for 28th nationally for educational innovation and was one of only 96 national institutions listed as an “A+ School for B Students,” a category that identifies universities that create an atmosphere in which spirit and hard work fosters student success.

Mason also rose to a tie for 136th in U.S. News’ overall national ranking, a jump of four spots from last year, and moved up to 67th nationally among public universities.

The rankings, which are closely followed by prospective students and their families across the country, reinforce Mason’s commitment to access and inclusion, while acknowledging its role as a nationally recognized tier-one research university.

“We are committed to providing students of all backgrounds with access to excellence at one of the nation’s top public research universities,” Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “These opportunities should not be limited to the few. All Mason students can expect a transformational learning experience that upon graduation will enable them to be successful anywhere in the world.”

Said Provost S. David Wu: “As an institution accessible to large populations of students, and a powerhouse for new ideas in research and learning, Mason is developing what could be a national model for higher education. The ranking is a great validation of our way of approaching the student experience and student success, which is a product of our academic programs, an incredible faculty and an approach where we think about the students and the environment in which they learn.”

In evaluating campus diversity, U.S. News looked at the proportion of minority students and the overall mix of groups in each institution’s 2017-18 student body. The formula produced an index of 0.0 to 1.0. The closer a school’s number is to 1.0, the more diverse the student population. Mason’s score was 0.70.

In acknowledging institutions for innovative education, U.S. News relied on nominations through a survey of “top college officials.”

“Mason is a university that values inclusivity, rather than exclusivity,” said Michelle Marks, Mason’s vice president for academic innovation and new ventures. “We are building new and better ways to meet the learning and lifestyle needs of our diverse student population.”

Mason is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., it has more than 36,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states.

The university boasts one of the strongest returns on investment in Virginia, and recent graduates earn the highest median salaries among their peers at other Virginia institutions, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Mason’s three-year student-loan default rate is one of the lowest among Virginia public universities, even though Mason has the fifth-highest average percentage of students receiving Pell Grants.

Here’s how Mason scored in the U.S. News rankings:

  • Tie, 25th for diversity.
  • Tie, 28th for educational innovation.
  • One of 96 institutions listed as an “A+ School for B Students.”
  • Tie, 136th among national universities.
  • Tie, 67th among public universities.
  • 105th as a “Best Value” institution.
  • Tie, 87th for undergraduate business.
  • Tie, 104th for undergraduate engineering.
  • Tie, 73rd in high school counselor rankings.
  • Tie, 92nd in “Best Colleges for Veterans.”