University of Iowa, Iowa State fall in global rankings by U.S. News & World Report

Research universities still among world's best

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top l
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (The Gazette/file photo)

IOWA CITY — Although the University of Iowa last month improved its standing on the esteemed U.S. News & World Report list of top national and public colleges, both UI and Iowa State University slipped in the publication’s newest global rankings of institutions.

The UI inched down two spots from No. 159 last year to No. 161, while Iowa State dropped from No. 212 to No. 220, according to the U.S. News 2020 edition of the “Best Global Universities.” The newest edition evaluated 1,500 schools from around the world on academic research and reputation.

The UI and ISU losses continue their slide in the global rankings, in that UI ranked No. 153 two years ago and ISU was at No. 204. The new international ranking evaluated schools in 81 countries — up from 75 last year — with the United States amassing the most on the list at 249, followed by China at 188, the United Kingdom at 86, Japan at 82 and Germany at 66.

The top five schools in the world, according to U.S. News, are Harvard University at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of California-Berkeley — with the University of Oxford in England coming in at No. 5.

The global ranking methodology considers factors that measure a school’s global and regional research reputation and academic research performance — including bibliometric indicators like publications, citations and international collaboration.

UI and ISU administrators often tout their U.S. News rankings, with UI President Bruce Harreld reminding the Board of Regents and lawmakers of his school’s standing compared with peers that receive more state support and tuition revenue.

Although the UI improved four spots to No. 34 among public universities this year and from No. 89 to No. 84 among all national universities — including private schools — it slipped to second from the bottom among its peers. Compared to Big Ten schools, the UI tops only the University of Nebraska in the national rankings.


Iowa State’s slide in the international rankings mimicked its slip among national schools, in that it fell from No. 119 to No. 121 among all public and private schools. It stepped up one among public schools from No. 56 to No. 55.

Comments: (319) 339-3158;

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.