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A&M and TCU climb, Baylor and SMU slip in 2018 U.S. News college rankings

Students on Texas A&M University's campus on Nov. 11, 2015. (Photo by Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune)

by Matthew Watkins | The Texas Tribune

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.

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)

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.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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