Rice University in Houston is by far the best college in Texas — and the 14th-best school in the nation — according to U.S. News and World Reports' latest college rankings. 

No other Texas universities broke the top 50 of the magazine's influential rankings.

But five jockeyed for position in spots 50 to 80, including the University of Texas at Austin (second in Texas, 56th overall) and Dallas' Southern Methodist University (61st overall). 

Texas A&M University ranks fourth in the state this year, climbing from 74th in the nation last year to 69th this year. A&M surpassed Baylor University, which fell four spots this year to 75th overall. Texas Christian University climbed from 82nd to 78th in the country this year, and now ranks fifth in Texas.

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Among Texas colleges, Dallas Baptist University took the biggest climb in the rankings, rising from 214 in the U.S. last year to 202 this year. 

Many higher education experts warn the U.S. News rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. Critics call the rankings too simplistic and say students and school administrators pay too much attention to them. But there is no question that the rankings are important — from a marketing standpoint if nothing else.

Gov. Greg Abbott has said he wants to see five Texas universities among the nation's top 10 public schools. Currently, there are none. 

Here are all the Texas universities that made the top 200. Last year's rankings are in parentheses.

14. Rice (15)

56. UT-Austin (Tied for 56)

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61. SMU (Tied for 56)

69. A&M (74)

75. Baylor (71)

78. TCU (82)

145. The University of Texas at Dallas (146)

176. Texas Tech University (176)

192. University of Houston (194)

202. Dallas Baptist University (214)

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

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • The fracking boom helped push the Permanent University Fund close to $20 billion, and every year the UT System gets a slice of that money to spend — but just a sliver goes to student financial aid. [Full story]

  • Colleges in Houston and along the coast canceled classes and suffered minor damage from Hurricane Harvey. But major disaster has so far been averted. Take a look at how your university fared. [Full story]

  • 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. [Full story]

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