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U.S. News: UCF Ranks Among the Nation’s 10 Most Innovative Universities


U.S. News: UCF Ranks Among the Nation’s 10 Most Innovative Universities

UCF climbed 15 spots in the ranking and now is ahead of Duke, Johns Hopkins and Harvard

ORLANDO—The University of Central Florida is one of the ten most innovative universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2019. Released online today, this nationally respected ranking recognizes schools for “innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.”

“UCF is defining what it means to be a 21st-century university committed to fueling the talent, ideas and innovation that will drive our community and state forward,” says President Dale Whittaker. “We have a unique opportunity to serve more students as a national model for academic excellence, inclusion and affordability.”

UCF placed ahead of Duke and Johns Hopkins universities as well as Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Princeton. The No. 10 ranking also represents a 15-spot climb from the 2018 edition, when UCF was ranked No. 25. This is the second consecutive year UCF has been named among the nation’s most innovative universities, and the third time the university has been ranked in the four years since the category was established. UCF is the only Florida school recognized on the national listing.

Among UCF’s innovations are:

  • Digital and Adaptive Learning: Eschewing the one-size-fits-all approach to learning, UCF is committed to providing an education that best suits students’ needs. In addition to traditional classroom learning, the university is focused on digital and adaptive learning to ensure student success. More than 80 percent of UCF students take at least one online course through UCF Online or as part of their regular curriculum. Research shows that digital learning accelerates the time needed to earn a degree while lowering tuition costs. 
  • Innovation in Locations: UCF Downtown will offer 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students service-learning, internships, and real-world experiences in downtown Orlando’s urban environment.  Both UCF Lake Nona Medical Center, the university hospital, and the UCF Lake Nona Cancer Centera comprehensive cancer treatment and research facility, will provide state-of-the-art medical facilities, where students and researchers can study, learn and conduct potentially life-saving clinical trials alongside the patients they’re treating.
  • The innovative DirectConnect to UCF program has enabled more than 46,000 students to earn UCF bachelor’s degrees, expanding opportunities for students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to earn high-quality, four-year degrees. UCF guarantees admission to graduates of six area state colleges and embeds advisors on the state college campuses to help students make a smooth transition to the university.

U.S. News’ Best Colleges 2019 guide also included UCF in the following categories:

  • No. 33 for least amount of student debt load at graduation in the nation (nearly half of UCF students graduate with no educational debt)
  • No. 80 Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
  • No. 87 Best Public University
  • No. 165 Best National University
  • “A+ Schools for B Students”

U.S. News isn’t the only one recognizing the groundbreaking work happening at UCF.

UCF is among the universities that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is looking at as examples of what the future of higher education should look like.

Last October, the Gateses visited campus, and in May, Bill Gates wrote on his blog, “Conventional wisdom in higher education dictates that bigger is not better. … UCF is challenging this storyline by proving that a university can have it all: a large, diverse student population, high standards and affordable tuition.”

He cited UCF’s success in tripling the size of the student body since 1992 while also “reducing costs, boosting its graduate rate and expanding access for low-income and first-generation students.” UCF graduates more than 15,000 students a year, and this fall, enrollment reached more than 68,500 and this year’s freshman class had an average GPA of 4.11.

Melinda Gates specifically praised mathematics lecturer Tammy Muhs’s digitally powered, personalized freshman algebra course which tailors course lessons according to individual aptitude and enables students to move ahead at their own pace.

Earlier this year, U.S. News ranked UCF in the Top 20 for online undergraduate programs, No. 13 for online undergraduate programs for veterans, and 25 UCF graduate programs were included in their Top 100 Best Graduate Schools.

More recently, Washington Monthly ranked UCF No. 45 among public universities in the nation, andForbes ranked UCF No. 88 among public universities in their 2018 America’s Top Colleges.

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