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SMU Ties UT, Baylor Passes A&M in 2017 U.S. News College Rankings

Rice University, SMU, Baylor University and Dallas Baptist University all climbed in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings this year. All of the state's top public universities fell.

Students on Texas A&M University's campus on Nov. 11, 2015.

The latest version of the U.S. News and World Report college rankings are good news for Texas private schools. Not so for the state's top public universities: All of them dropped in the influential list of the best schools in the country. 

SMU is now tied with the University of Texas at Austin as the second-best university in the state Meanwhile, Baylor University has surpassed Texas A&M University to become the No. 4 college in the state

Rice University, which is ranked 15 nationally, remains the clear No. 1 in Texas. It climbed three spots from 18 last year. SMU and UT-Austin are far behind in a tie for 56. Last year, SMU was 61 and UT-Austin was 52. 

The U.S. News and World Report rankings are highly controversial. Critics call them too simplistic and say students and school administrators pay too much attention to them. But there is no question that the rankings are important. Gov. Greg Abbott has said he wants to see five Texas universities among the top 10 public schools. (Currently, there are none.) UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven has often cited the rankings during discussions of higher education policy in the state. 

The biggest climber in the state was SMU, not counting Dallas Baptist University, which wasn't ranked last year but came in 214 this year. The biggest fall came from Texas Tech University, which dropped eight spots to 176. 

Here's a list of the Texas schools. Their rankings last year are in parentheses. 

15. Rice University (18 last year)

56. SMU (61)

56. University of Texas at Austin (52)

71. Baylor University (72)

74. Texas A&M University (70)

82. TCU (82)

146. University of Texas at Dallas (140)

176. Texas Tech University (168)

194. University of Houston (187)

214. Dallas Baptist University (unranked last year)

Read more higher education coverage in the Texas Tribune:

  • Read our series The Price of Admission, a look at the history and impact of the Top 10 Percent Rule in Texas. 
  • How UT-Dallas transformed itself into one of the best public universities in Texas. 
  • Less screaming, more diversity: Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets is rebooting for the 21st Century.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Rice University, Texas Tech University, the University of Houston and Southern Methodist University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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