1. News
  2. /
  3. Gradebook

Florida universities move up in U.S. News rankings

USF made the top 50 while UF ranked No. 7 on a list of America’s top public colleges and universities.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday holds a University of Florida football jersey with his name on it following his announcement the school's rise to No. 7 in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report list of top public schools. (University of Florida) [University of Florida]
Published Sep. 9
Updated Sep. 9

Florida universities made strides on a national stage Monday, moving up on annual lists of the country’s top higher education institutions compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

Ranked again as the state’s best college, the University of Florida improved one spot, to No. 7, on a list of the nation’s best public schools. The University of South Florida is 44th on that list — 14 spots higher than last year and up significantly from 2015, when it was No. 88.

“No one has greater trajectory than USF,” university president Steve Currall said in an interview Monday. “That’s what we’re focused on.”

Florida State University improved, too, moving up eight spots from last year to become the 18th-best public institution in the country. The University of Central Florida is the state’s only other institution in the top 100 of that list, at 79th.

A list of all institutions nationwide, including public and private, ranked Florida schools this way: UF at 34th, FSU and the University of Miami tied at 57th, USF at 104th and UCF at 166th.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spent Monday morning at UF, announcing the news to a room that erupted in applause. He praised the school for its “steady improvement” since 2012, when UF was the nation’s 19th-best public university.

UF “is going to be knocking on the top 5 soon” DeSantis said, adding that the university’s rise is the result of hard work by UF administration and support from state government. At the end of the governor’s remarks, UF president Kent Fuchs gave him a Gators football jersey with “DeSantis” and a No. 7 on the back.

RELATED: Florida again ranked top state for higher education

At No. 44 on the public university list, USF ranks above or is tied with six schools holding membership in the Association of American Universities, a prestigious, invitation-only group of the nation’s top 62 institutions. Joining the association, whose only Florida member is UF, remains a top goal for USF leaders.

USF ranked 11th — higher than any other Florida school — on another list by U.S. News that measures “social mobility,” or an institution’s ability to enroll, retain and graduate low-income students who receive federal Pell Grants.

Florida’s second-best school in that category was Florida International University at No. 12. UF tied with Keiser University at No. 34. Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic universities tied for 45th. UCF ranked 60th, and FSU ranked 80th.

UCF’s most notable ranking was for innovation: At No. 16, it is Florida’s best in that category. FSU ranks 39th for innovation, while USF is 42nd and FIU is 63rd.

USF was Florida’s top institution on a list for “best value schools," at No. 60. Rankings for that category are calculated by comparing academic quality and cost. The University of Miami is 77th, UF is 110th, FSU is 114th and UCF is 154th.

In all, U.S. News ranked about 1,900 schools. Of those, 399 were in the “national universities” category and 146 were in the group of “top public schools.”

Both at UF and later in the day during an announcement at FSU, DeSantis said Florida colleges and universities are not only high-performing, but more affordable than those elsewhere. "The education you’re getting for the price, I think that combination is probably unmatched anywhere in the country,” he said at UF.

It’s a result of investments by the Florida Legislature, DeSantis said, and moves by the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System, to hire more faculty, reduce class sizes and help more students graduate within four years.

“The importance goes beyond just providing opportunity to our students,” DeSantis said. "As governor, it really helps me to attract more investment to Florida if I can point to the great job universities are doing.”

To see all the rankings, visit

Staff writer Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this report.


  1. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  3. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  4. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  5. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  7. Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia holds a back-to-school press conference at Rampello K-8 School, [TIMES files]
    MaryEllen Elia, who led the Hillsborough district from 2005 to 2015, has been an educator since 1970.
  8. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. [TIMES FILES] Times staff
    Two more public meetings are planned, and the online survey is up until Saturday.
  9. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  10. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    The proposed policy comes up for a vote on Oct. 1.