The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland, College Park were again listed among the nation's top up-and-coming schools in annual rankings released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report.
Most of the state's colleges and universities retained similar spots in the oft-cited, oft-criticized rankings, with the Johns Hopkins University finishing No. 13 among national universities for a second straight year.
College Park jumped a spot to No. 55 among national universities and appeared on lists of schools with top-notch undergraduate experiences in areas such as business education, service learning, internships and freshman seminars. The state's flagship university was No. 8 among the nation's up-and-coming national universities.
UMBC topped the up-and-coming list for a third straight year and also placed fourth on a list of national universities most committed to undergraduate teaching, sharing the upper tier with Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale.
"Any time you're in that kind of company, I think that it makes people realize that something special is going on at UMBC," said President Freeman A. Hrabowski III.
It's uncommon for an institution that ranks No. 157 overall to appear in the upper ranks of such lists, but UMBC has made a practice of it in recent years.
Overall rankings are weighted against younger universities such as UMBC, Hrabowski said, but the university's appearances on the up-and-coming list show that it has made an impression on peers.
That list is drawn from a survey of college presidents and provosts, who are asked to name the schools demonstrating the "most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities."
"It's affirmation that our peers recognize the quality of our academic programs and some of the innovations we've made in raising student achievement," Hrabowski said.
The U.S. News rankings have become a signature part of the university's pitch to incoming students, and they appear on large signs at campus entrances.
Stevenson University also was noted in the up-and-coming survey, placing No. 2 among regional universities in the North.
"Stevenson has seen tremendous growth over the last decade, adding more students, facilities, and programs as well as renewing our focus on career development for our students," President Kevin J. Manning said in explaining the recognition.
To determine overall rankings, U.S. News looks at factors such as acceptance rates, class size, alumni giving and average SAT scores of entering students. Harvard, Princeton and Yale took the top three spots in the ranking of national universities.
Loyola University Maryland finished No. 3 in the overall ranking of regional universities, which are schools that offer a wide range of undergraduate and master's programs but few doctorates. Among other regional universities in the state, Mount St. Mary's ranked No. 21, Hood College ranked No. 26, Notre Dame of Maryland ranked No. 32, Salisbury ranked No. 41 and Towson ranked No. 49.
The U.S. Naval Academy continued to climb the rankings of liberal arts colleges, placing No. 14 and appearing at No. 5 in a ranking of the nation's best undergraduate engineering programs.
Among other liberal arts institutions, St. Mary's College ranked No. 90, Washington College ranked No. 110, Goucher College ranked No. 121 and McDaniel College and St. John's College finished tied at No. 139.