COLLEGE

And The Best College In America This Year Is ...

The Ivies take (almost) all.

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation's best colleges and universities contain a double dose of victory for Princeton University. 

Not only did Princeton clinch the top spot on the annual list, released Wednesday, the school is also now tied with Harvard University for the most No. 1 rankings since U.S. News began issuing the report in 1983. Both schools have been ranked the top school in the nation 16 times. Yale comes in a distant third, with four No. 1 rankings to its name. 

Ivy League schools dominated this year's rankings for national universities (the report's primary listing), as they have in the past. But this year, the venerable report has expanded its definition of what it means to be the "best." New for 2016 is a ranking of the "Most Innovative" schools, for which the top honor went to Arizona State University-Tempe.

"U.S. News thought it was important to highlight and emphasize the importance of innovative schools," Robert Morse, the chief data strategist for U.S. News, told The Huffington Post. "The new 2016 Most Innovative Schools list features institutions making inventive improvements in terms of campus life, curriculum, facilities, faculty, students or technology."

The new category comes a year after U.S. News overhauled its ranking criteria (following years of criticism) to include more objective factors like graduation and freshman retention rates, thereby relying less on academic reputation.

"Upon the rankings’ inception in 1983, schools were evaluated using reputation only," Morse said. "So the sophistication of the Best Colleges methodology has matured greatly as fair, comparable data have become available."

Though the ranking criteria have evolved to be more objective, there's still a level of subjectivity because of how each factor is weighted. According to Morse, "certain indicators" hold more weight than others, statistically speaking: Graduation rates account for 30 percent of the ranking, for instance, while alumni giving accounts for just 5 percent.

Over time, the ranking model has shifted to emphasize not only objective measures over subjective ones, but also what Morse calls "output measures" of quality  -- graduation rates, for example -- over "input measures," like the SAT and ACT scores of incoming freshmen.

Check out the list below for the top 10 national universities (and see the full list and other lists, such as "Most Innovative, "Best Liberal Arts" and "Best Value" schools, at U.S. News.)

  • 10. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, Maryland (Tie)
    Exterior of Gilman Hall, on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
    John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
    Exterior of Gilman Hall, on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 10. California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, California (Tie)
    A student walks through an arched walkway on the California Institute of Technology campus
    Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
    A student walks through an arched walkway on the California Institute of Technology campus
  • 9. University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Ben Franklin statue on the University of Pennsylvania campus. 
    John Greim/Getty Images
    Ben Franklin statue on the University of Pennsylvania campus. 
  • 8. Duke University - Durham, North Carolina
    Duke University Chapel at night with clouds overhead.
    Getty Images
    Duke University Chapel at night with clouds overhead.
  • 7. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology - Cambridge, Massachusetts
    


MIT's campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock
    MIT's campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • 4. University of Chicago - Chicago, Illinois (Tie)
    Saieh Hall for Economics on the campus of the University of Chicago.
    Bruce Leighty/Getty Images
    Saieh Hall for Economics on the campus of the University of Chicago.
  • 4. Stanford University - Palo Alto, California (Tie)
    Stanford University's campus in Palo Alto.
    Shutterstock
    Stanford University's campus in Palo Alto.
  • 4. Columbia University - New York, New York (Tie)
    The Low Memorial Library on the campus of Columbia University.
    Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
    The Low Memorial Library on the campus of Columbia University.
  • 3. Yale University - New Haven, Connecticut
    Yale University's campus in the evening.
    Natalia Bratslavsky/Getty Images
    Yale University's campus in the evening.
  • 2. Harvard University - Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Harvard University at night.
    Shutterstock
    Harvard University at night.
  • 1. Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey
    A couple walks past Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus in Princeton, N.J. 
    Credit: Associated Press
    A couple walks past Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus in Princeton, N.J. 

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