Elon named #2 National University for Excellence in Teaching in new U.S. News & World Report rankings

For the second year in a row, Elon is ranked among the top 100 National Universities in the leading “Best Colleges” guide.

Elon University is ranked #88 among the nation’s most prestigious comprehensive universities, with a #2 ranking for excellence in undergraduate teaching for the second straight year and a #10 ranking for Most Innovative National University. The 2021 rankings are included in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” guide, which was released Sept. 14.

For the sixth straight year, Elon is the leader in the “Focus on Student Success” feature – the only college or university ranked in the top 20 in all eight categories of high-impact academic programs.

“I am especially proud of Elon’s #2 national ranking for teaching excellence,” said President Connie Ledoux Book. “This is a defining characteristic of our university and that has been especially apparent this year. Elon’s highly skilled faculty, with the support of staff across the university, have created innovative and effective approaches to teaching and learning during the pandemic. In the most difficult circumstances, Elon is again setting the standard for student success in the classroom and beyond.”

As the #2 university for undergraduate teaching, Elon is ranked among a group of elite universities that demonstrate the highest quality of instruction.

Top 10 National Universities recognized for excellence in undergraduate teaching:

#1 Brown University
#2 Elon University
#3 Georgia State University
#4 Princeton University
#5 College of William & Mary
#6 Rice University
#7 Dartmouth College
#8 Boston College
#9 Duke University
#9 Stanford University


In the “Focus on Student Success” feature, Elon led all other institutions based on a survey of top college and university leaders across the nation. Elon has the following top 20 rankings in the eight academic and co-curricular programs proven to enhance student success:

#1 Learning Communities
#1 Study Abroad
#2 First-Year Experiences
#2 Senior Capstone
#2 Service Learning
#7 Internships/Co-ops
#10 Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects
#19 Writing in the Disciplines

“These recognitions demonstrate the dedication Elon faculty and staff have to mentoring students and ensuring success in all dimensions of their college careers,” Book said. “Through the opportunities of the Elon Experiences, on- and off-campus, our students are engaged in an immersive, 24/7 learning environment.”

With Elon ranked in the top 20 in eight categories, Duke University was ranked in the top 20 in seven categories; Yale University and Agnes Scott College in six categories; and Stanford University, Amherst College, Brown University and Princeton University in five categories.

This year Elon moved to the top 10 of the Most Innovative National Universities. These are universities that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

Top 10 “Most Innovative” National Universities:

#1 Arizona State University-Tempe
#2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
#3 Georgia State University
#4 Georgia Institute of Technology
#5 Purdue University-West Lafayette
#6 Stanford University
#7 California Institute of Technology
#8 Carnegie Mellon University
#9 University of Maryland-Baltimore County
#10 Elon University

The “Most Innovative” rankings for other North Carolina schools include Duke University (#14), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#50), North Carolina A&T State University (#68) and North Carolina State University (#68).

In the overall National Universities category, Elon is ranked #88 and #55 among private universities based on strong scores in several areas of the “Best Colleges” methodology. Elon ranks #22 in alumni annual financial support and #64 in graduation and student retention rates, with 90 percent of first-year students returning for their sophomore year and 85 percent going on to graduate within six years. Elon is one of only 10 schools with zero percent of classes larger than 50 students.

North Carolina colleges and universities included in the overall National Universities rankings include:

#12 Duke University
#28 Wake Forest University
#28 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
#80 North Carolina State University
#88 Elon University
#187 University of North Carolina at Wilmington
#217 East Carolina University
#227 University of North Carolina at Charlotte
#258 Campbell University
#258 University of North Carolina at Greensboro
#272 North Carolina A&T State University
#284 Gardner-Webb University
#298-389 Wingate University

Elon moved to the National Universities category in 2019 after being classified as a Doctoral/Professional University by the Carnegie Classification of Colleges. The top schools in the National Universities category this year are (in rank order) Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins and Northwestern University.

U.S. News & World Report has been producing college rankings since 1983. The rankings are based on an extensive annual data survey of institutions along with opinion surveys of university faculty and administrators.