Royce Hall UCLA

Credit: Elena Zhukova/University of California

Students pass in front of Royce Hall, one of UCLA’s signature buildings. UCLA is the top public university in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report, with UC Berkeley at No. 2. UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Davis are also among the top 10.

2022 Best Colleges rankings

Overall Public National
UCLA 1 20
Berkeley 2 22
Santa Barbara 5* 28*
San Diego 8 34*
Irvine 9 36*
Davis 10* 38*
Riverside 33* 83*
Merced 38* 93*
Santa Cruz 46* 103*


Social Mobility   Ranking
Riverside   1
Irvine   2
Merced   4
Santa Cruz   12
Santa Barbara   16*
Davis   16*
UCLA   21*
San Diego   26*
Berkeley   82*

*denotes a tie with another institution

Six University of California campuses rank among the top 10 public universities in the country, with all nine UC undergraduate campuses among the top 50 in the 2022 Best Colleges rankings, published today (Sept. 13) by U.S. News & World Report.

UC also ranked highly in the national university rankings, with eight campuses among the nation’s top 100 schools, public or private.

“These rankings underscore the world-class education UC provides,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “Access, affordability and excellence remain hallmarks of the University. We are pleased that U.S. News and World Report continues to recognize UC for its achievements.”

UCLA ranked as the best public school in the country, with UC Berkeley at No. 2. UC Santa Barbara ranked fifth, UC San Diego eighth and UC Irvine ninth. UC Davis vaulted into the top 10, improving its performance by one spot over last year and helping the UC system claim more than half the top public university spots.

“UCLA’s ranking as the top public university in the country five years running reaffirms what we already know: that this is a place where students of all backgrounds can thrive, where we invest in and support excellent teaching and where we set students up for success after graduation,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in a release from the campus. “I hope every member of our community takes pride in what this ranking represents.”

U.S. News & World Report releases its annual Best Colleges rankings each fall. The rankings assess bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States. This edition, its 37th, evaluated 1,466 institutions across 17 measures of academic quality. Measures include retention and graduation rates, social mobility, student-faculty ratio, faculty resources and academic reputation. To account for the ongoing pandemic, the magazine slightly adjusted SAT/ACT score assessments and made greater use of historic data for a few other ranking indicators, such as evaluating in-person class size.

For the second year, the magazine also assessed graduate indebtedness as part of its Best Colleges criteria. Roughly 56 percent of UC undergraduates complete their degrees without taking on any student loans, according to the annual UC accountability report.

For the third straight year, U.S. News also published a social mobility ranking for universities, public and private. The ranking measures a school’s ability to graduate Pell Grant recipients, typically students from families who earn less than $50,000, though most Pell Grant money goes to families who earn less than $20,000 annually. UC campuses scored extremely well on social mobility, with six campuses in the top 20. UC Riverside led the way, ranked first, with UC Irvine second and UC Merced in the fourth spot. UC Riverside has earned the top spot in all three years this ranking has been issued.

Six UC campuses also scored in the top 20 of the Best Colleges for Veterans category. UCLA placed No. 5 on the magazine’s list followed by UC Berkeley (No. 7), UC Santa Barbara (No. 10), UC San Diego (No. 13), UC Irvine (No. 15), and UC Davis (No. 16). For this category, U.S. News assesses a campus’s G.I. Bill certification, 2022 Best Colleges ranking, and enrollment of full- and part-time undergraduate veterans and undergraduate active service members.

UC’s dedication to social mobility also helped it earn the top spot in Forbes’ 13th edition of America’s Top Colleges, released last week. Updating its methodology to account for inclusivity and social mobility, Forbes found UC Berkeley to be the best school in the country, public or private, beating out universities like Yale and Princeton. UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Davis also joined UC Berkeley among the top 20 universities in the country as “true engines of the American dream,” per Forbes’ announcement. To learn more, please see our story about the Forbes rankings here.