Mason leads Virginia in innovation and diversity as engineering numbers climb in latest U.S. News rankings

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First day of classes at George Mason University, 2021. Photo by: Shelby Burgess/Strategic Communications/George Mason University

George Mason University is the most diverse and most innovative institution in Virginia according to the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report for its 2022 Best Colleges List, reflecting the university’s mission of providing access to excellence. Six programs made the top 100, including engineering, which rose 16 spots in the past year.

Mason also rose in its social mobility rankings (graduating Pell Grant students), to No. 127 (up from 144). Over the past five years, Mason grew its number of Pell Grant-receiving students by the fifth largest total in the country.

“Universities have a responsibility to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to make a difference in their communities,” said Mason President Gregory Washington. “These rankings highlight that Mason has taken that a step beyond, providing access to excellence for students of all walks of life, and positively impacting not only the region, but the nation through our innovative research and leadership.”

In addition to being best in Virginia, Mason ranked No. 9 among public institutions for innovation and No. 18 nationally, up from No. 35 in 2020, when the institution tied with Virginia Tech.

“Mason’s rapid increase in research over the last five to seven years has been significant, especially as one of the youngest R1 research institutions,” said Paula Sorrell, associate vice president of Mason’s Office of Research. “The research that the faculty is doing is leading to technologies that are very market-related, and Mason has always done a good job in working with its partners to better understand their needs, both from an academic and research perspective.”

Sorrell added that the rating also speaks to the work of Mason’s Small Business Development Center, the recently launched Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA), its growing entrepreneurial programs, and community partnerships across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The university, which ranked No. 148 overall (No. 67 among publics), also maintained its top ranking in Virginia for ethnic diversity (No. 21 overall; No. 12 among publics).

“This ranking is a reflection of Mason’s commitment to build a community where all feel welcome and supported, and provides affirmation of the quality of our programs, as well as the achievements of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Sharnnia Artis, vice president at the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the university’s chief diversity officer. “We are very pleased U.S. News has recognized our university’s approach to inclusive excellence.”

For cybersecurity, Mason ranked No. 28 (15 among publics). For undergraduate engineering at schools that offer a doctoral degree program, Mason is ranked No. 86 (up from 102).

“Our programs, enrollment, and research are all growing along with our impact on the nation and the commonwealth,” said Kenneth Ball, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “While we have long been known for our cybersecurity expertise, our other programs are now being recognized for their outstanding quality, resulting in higher rankings.”

In partnership with the commonwealth’s Tech Talent initiative and to support Amazon’s HQ2 and other regional employers, the university has been expanding its programs in computer science and related fields.

“We’re on a fabulous trajectory, and I am very excited about our future,” Ball said, adding that Mason is the largest producer of tech talent in Virginia.

The university was also named a top 100 best school for veterans (No. 86, up from No. 100) and is listed as an “A+ School for B Students.”

In 2020, Mason began offering undergraduate teaching degrees for the first time. The program has already claimed a spot in U.S. News’ top 100. The program is No. 20 among public institutions, tied with University of Virginia.

“This ranking reflects the impact of Mason’s education programs resulting from our exceptional faculty, comprehensive curriculum, and school-based field experiences,” said Robert Baker, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Through cutting-edge research, outstanding instruction, and top-notch partner school systems, our diverse student population is readied to assume leadership roles in the evolving educational environment.

U.S. News added a new category this year for undergraduate nursing, for which Mason also made the top 100.

“The latest rankings for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing reflect Mason’s commitment to providing students with interprofessional learning experiences in culturally diverse and underserved populations,” said Germaine Louis, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “Upon graduation, Mason nurses are prepared to become health care leaders in many roles including clinicians, educators, researchers, and administrators and across employment sectors.”

Mason also ranked in these U.S. News categories, released Monday, Sept. 13.

Overall ranking

Nationally: 148

Publics: 67

Most Innovative Schools

Nationally: 18 (Best in Virginia; up from 35)

Publics: 9 (up from 13 in 2020)

Ethnic Diversity

Nationally: 21 (Best in Virginia)

Publics: 12

A+ School for B Students

(Selection, no rankings)

Undergraduate Business

Nationally: 84

Publics: 52

Undergraduate Nursing (new category for 2022)

Nationally: 96

Publics: 71

Undergraduate Computer Science

Nationally: 82

Publics 45

Cybersecurity

Nationally: 28

Publics: 15

Best School for Veterans

Nationally: 86 (up from 100)

Publics: 62

Best Value Schools

Nationally: No. 137

Publics: No. 45

Undergraduate Engineering (for schools with a doctoral program)

Nationally: 86 (up from 102)

Publics: 51

Top Performers on Social Mobility (graduating Pell Grant students)

Nationally: 127 (Up from 144)

Publics: 66

Undergraduate Teaching

Nationally: 71

Publics: 20

Editor’s note: This story may be updated as more information is released.