In the rapidly evolving, competitive marketplace of higher education, Virginia Tech is not only holding its ground as one of the nation's best universities, but steadily gaining.

That’s according to newly released 2020 rankings of best colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News annually ranks colleges and universities using graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data, along with an institution’s academic reputation as determined by its peers.

Virginia Tech’s placement as one of the top institutions in the country comes as it positions itself to be a global land-grant university with a focus on transformative academics, research, and service.

Virginia Tech gained two spots in the national rankings, moving up to number 74 from 76 last year. Among public universities, it maintained its rank of 30th. Virginia Tech also ranked 42nd for most innovative schools.

The College of Engineering held its position as 13th among engineering programs, with Tech’s industrial engineering program ranked fourth. The Pamplin College of Business moved up one spot to 43rd among business programs.

Other programs and departments are included in additional rankings that U.S. News & World Report releases after its initial report drops.

“There is an increased focus and consideration in these rankings on social mobility, and while we continue to move up in the rankings through a strong overall graduation rate, we have an opportunity to improve by reducing disparities in graduation rates and time-to-degree for diverse groups,” said Cyril Clarke, Virginia Tech executive vice president and provost. “This very much aligns with our commitment to enhancing advising services and targeted financial aid for students with need. Also, further improvement in our ranking will depend on us continuing to build on our record of excellent faculty scholarship.”

The “social mobility” metric is measured in the gap in Virginia Tech’s overall graduation rate (84 percent) and its Pell recipient graduation rate (77 percent), and has a significant weight in the overall institutional ranking.

The university ranked 29 in the category of colleges with learning communities. Virginia Tech's Living-Learning Programs provide students with an opportunity to thrive both in and out of the classroom. Communities exist for arts and creativity (Studio 72), engineering (Galileo and Hypatia), entrepreneurship (Innovate), sciences (Orion), and more.

The annual U.S. News rankings compare bachelor's degree-granting institutions from across the U.S. on 15 measures of academic quality, such as average ACT/SAT scores of admitted students, student-faculty ratios, and graduation rates. The report also lists additional information, including application requirements, tuition and financial aid, student body characteristics, and figures on post-graduate employment.

— Written by Mason Adams