Key takeaways

  • UCLA pulls off a striking seventh consecutive top ranking, landing the No. 1 spot among public universities on U.S. News’ 2024 “Best Colleges” list.
  • The campus was again ranked the No. 1 public university for veterans.
  • The university vaulted from No. 20 to No. 15 overall.
  • UCLA ranked highest in social mobility among the top 25 universities.
  • More than 30% of UCLA students are first-generation.

UCLA has been named the nation’s top public university in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, which were published today. The campus has now held the No. 1 spot for seven consecutive years in the annual rankings.

“The success we have had in college rankings is reflective of the hard work, dedication, resilience, ingenuity and excellence of the people who make up the Bruin community,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “More than anything else, UCLA is the best public university in the nation because of the contributions of our staff, faculty, students, alumni and friends. UCLA is the best public university in the nation because of you.”

Since Block became chancellor in 2007, UCLA has risen from the No. 4 public university to the pinnacle among public institutions in the U.S. News rankings. This year, the campus also jumped five spots to capture the No. 15 ranking (tied with UC Berkeley) among all national institutions, public and private — the largest single-year advance during the chancellor’s tenure. UCLA was ranked No. 25 nationally when Block took office.

UCLA also continued its streak as the No. 1 public institution for veterans, an honor it has held for seven straight years. UCLA shared the top spot this year with UC Berkeley.

Among the top 25 national universities, UCLA ranked highest in the social mobility category, which looks at the academic success of diverse students, particularly first-generation students and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Today, these students graduate at rates comparable to campus’s overall graduation rate, which exceeds 90%. A majority of students complete their education without debt.

“UCLA opens the doors of opportunity to tens of thousands of students each year and remains one of our state’s greatest economic engines,” said Block.

The U.S. News & World Report national rankings are based on 19 measures, including the academic quality of students, graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios, educational resources and social mobility, as well as schools’ academic reputation, as determined by a peer assessment survey of college presidents, provosts and deans of admissions.

Below, take a deeper dive into some of the factors that have kept UCLA at the top of the U.S. News rankings since 2017 — as well as some others that have made UCLA perennially the most applied-to campus in the country.


Leading the charge for military veterans

UCLA's 2013 Veterans Day ceremony in Wilson Plaza

It’s little wonder UCLA tops all public colleges in this U.S. News category: Strengthening resources for student veterans and active-duty service members has been one of Block’s long-standing priorities. The campus, which currently enrolls more than 1,000 military-connected students — veterans, spouses or military dependents — offers a wealth of services, from the Veteran Resource Center to the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellbeing Center, to help these students in their academic and personal journeys.

“I was not surprised to hear that UCLA was ranked so highly,” said Tyrus Korecki, a UCLA graduate student and Air Force combat veteran who lauded the opportunities UCLA offers to help veterans excel in their academic and career endeavors. “The Veteran Resource Center has a first-of-its-kind mentorship program in which students get hands-on experience in research in STEM-focused fields. Programs such as this make UCLA an excellent place for student veterans to grow and develop after their military service.”

► Read about a former Navy submarine expert committed to mentoring other nontraditional students on campus and how UCLA is preparing veterans for workplace success.


The only UC with a housing guarantee

Courtside at UCLA’s Sunset Village residential complex.

Over the past decade, as enrollment has surged, UCLA has added more than a dozen new housing facilities for students. While many other University of California campuses have struggled to provide residences for their students, Block’s commitment to UCLA’s master plans for student housing enabled the campus to become the first and only in the UC system to guarantee up to four years of university housing for incoming freshmen and two years for transfer students.


► Read more about UCLA’s housing guarantee.


An engine of social mobility

Graduating first-generation student with his family

U.S. News measures social mobility by looking at graduation rates for first-generation students and those receiving federal Pell Grants, which support undergraduates with acute financial need. Roughly one-third of UCLA students receive Pell Grants, one-third are first-generation students and a third are transfer students. Among the top 25 colleges in the country, none ranked higher than UCLA in this category.

Many programs and initiatives at UCLA support these students’ success, including the Academic Advancement Program, which offers orientation sessions and ongoing mentorship and peer learning opportunities for students from historically underrepresented groups, and the Center for Community College Partnerships, which provides resources to help transfer students thrive.

► Read more about the work of the Academic Advancement Program in preparing first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students for academic life.


A research powerhouse — for faculty and students

Researcher in a UCLA laboratory

For the first time, U.S. News considered the quality of faculty research as a factor in its rankings. UCLA is renowned for the breadth and excellence of its research enterprise, and during Block’s tenure, the campus nearly doubled the amount of competitively awarded annual grants and contracts, from $913 million in 2007 to more than $1.7 billion in 2022. Thirty-nine UCLA scholars are currently ranked among the most often-cited researchers in their fields.

Importantly, more research opportunities for faculty translate into more meaningful research opportunities for undergraduates in the sciences and in the humanities, arts and social sciences. UCLA ranked No. 9 among all public institutions in undergraduate research.

► Read about extraordinary 2023 graduates who made their mark through undergraduate research in areas like  mental health, cancer, psychology and cardiovascular medicine.


Greatest college grub in the country

Photo from above of several Mexican-inspired dishes on a table.

Is a hot plate of grilled yuca with habanero honey glaze enough to convince you to come to UCLA? Some students might tell you so. While it wasn’t a factor in the U.S. News rankings, the campus’s fantastic fare has earned it’s “Best College Food in America” rating five years running.

“Food is an important part of the student experience and we do everything possible to bring students an incredible experience that they will remember long after they graduate from UCLA,” said Al Ferrone, senior executive director of UCLA’s food and beverage services.

► 9 reasons UCLA Dining is the best in the nation.