Story Social Mobility

CSU Tops 2018 Washington Monthly Rankings

Elizabeth Chapin


​Photo credit: Jessica Bartlett


California State University campuses rank among the nation's best universities when it comes to serving the public good and providing students with opportunities to increase social mobility, according to rankings released by Washington Monthly August 27.

Washington Monthly recognized 21 CSU campuses—with San Bernardino, Stanislaus, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Dominguez Hills and Northridge placing in the top 25 among master's institutions. Cal Maritime also ranked sixth nationally among bachelor's universities.

Fresno, Fullerton, San Diego and San Francisco were included in the "National University" category as they are considered doctoral institutions by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Washington Monthly placed Fresno State in the top 25 in this category, alongside universities such as Princeton, Yale, Harvard and Stanford.

The publication rated universities across the country based on their contribution to the public good in criteria such as recruiting and graduating low-income students, producing cutting-edge research and encouraging students to participate in community service.

The focus on social mobility and service sets Washington Monthly's rankings apart from most other college rankings, which tend to favor private universities. By contrast, 13 of the top 25 Washington Monthly colleges are publicly supported.

"Instead of rewarding schools that reject 95 percent of applicants, we give high marks to colleges that enroll lots of low-income students and help them graduate and earn a good living without too much debt," said Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at New America and guest editor of Washington Monthly's 2018 College Guide issue. "We give extra weight to colleges that send their graduates out into the world to serve the community at large."

Washington Monthly also issued "Best Bang for the Buck" rankings, sorted by region, which included 17 CSU campuses. Stanislaus, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy, San Bernardino, Dominguez Hills, Sacramento, Northridge, Long Beach and Fresno placed among the top 25 in the West.

The "Best Bang for the Buck" rankings are based on net price, graduation rates and whether students go on to earn at least enough to pay off their loans.

CSU campuses are frequently recognized for academic excellence and contributions to the public good. The Washington Monthly rankings represent just the latest round of national acclaim. Earlier this month, Money magazine ranked 12 CSU campuses among the nation's Top 50 Best Public Colleges, and 18 CSU campuses were named to Forbes' list of America's Top Colleges.