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WCU ranked among best universities by US News & World Report

Western Carolina University is again ranked as a top university by U.S. News & World Report, moving up in two regional categories of its “Best Colleges of 2019” guidebook and included in two national categories.

WCU consistently has been a top public university in the South in the magazine’s annual evaluations, both as a public institution and in the listing encompassing public and private institutions of higher education. This year’s rankings come as the university experiences increases in both the size and academic qualifications of its student body for the third consecutive year and the seventh time in the past eight years.

The 2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook offers comprehensive advice for researching college choices, providing a “smart shortlist” of schools. WCU is listed in a profile of more than 1,600 schools as:

  • 11th in top public universities in the South, up from 13th last year.
  • 34th in top regional universities (including public and private) in the South, up from 38th last year.
  • 24th in best colleges for veterans in the South.
  • 32nd in best undergraduate teaching programs in the South.
  • 100th best undergraduate engineering school in the nation.
  • 350th best undergraduate business school in the nation.

In a recent survey, 78 percent of responding WCU students pointed to both academic program availability and academic program quality as either the deciding factor or a consideration that played a large role in the decision-making process.

Catamounts cite academic program quality and availability in choosing WCU.

“We are very pleased to be moving up once again in the U.S. News & World Report rankings,” said Interim Chancellor Alison Morrison-Shetlar. “It is also important to look beyond these measures of achievement to see how faculty and staff continue to build an environment in which students thrive and encourage one another, make high retention rates a reality and create an atmosphere of success and confidence that our students will carry with them beyond graduation and into life beyond Western Carolina University.”

Innovative academic offerings such as the new undergraduate degree in integrated health sciences, a new master’s degree in athletic training, and a new doctorate program in psychology as well as construction of new and renovated dining facilities, residential space and the Apodaca Science Building demonstrate continued investment in innovation and quality that should continue to rank WCU as a great choice among prospective students and in various collegiate rankings, said Phil Cauley, assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate enrollment.

“Inclusion in rankings such as U.S. News & World Report is a welcome endorsement and an additional acknowledgement that students at WCU gain a valuable educational experience that pays dividends in learning and in life enrichment,” Cauley said. “WCU once was touted as the best-kept secret in North Carolina. Accolades such as these rankings reinforce what we have been experiencing with successive enrollment records in the quality and quantity of entering students — the Cat’s out of the bag.”

The recognition from U.S. News & World Report comes days after WCU announced new fall enrollment records.

The annual rankings are based on a variety of indicators, including assessment by administrators at peer institutions, graduation rates, retention of students, faculty resources, average class size, student-faculty ratio, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

Rankings and guidebooks can serve as a tool in the college search process, but so can campus visits. Fall 2018 Open House events are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 17. The Open House events last all day and include an information fair, campus tour featuring the residence halls, and academic department visits. Another opportunity to learn about the university is through WCU On Tour, with representatives available to answer questions following a formal presentation. On Tour events are scheduled for Greensboro on Monday, Sept. 17, at Embassy Suites; Raleigh on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Hilton Garden Inn - Crabtree; and Charlotte on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Embassy Suites - Ayrsley.

More information is available by going to or by calling the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 828-227-7317 or toll-free 877-928-4968.

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