Colorado Springs has top innovation college and top civil engineering program

By: Debbie Kelley

September 12, 2017 Updated: Today at 6:38 am
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The renovated Tutt Library Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, on the first day of school at Colorado College. Colorado College is back on top as the best innovative liberal arts school in the nation. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado College is back on top as the best innovative liberal arts school in the nation, say U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges Rankings, released Tuesday.

Also, the Air Force Academy has the best civil engineering program at public schools. And the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is tied for sixth best in Top Public Schools of the West, up from ninth place in the 2017 rankings.

Overall, local higher education institutions are moving up the competitive ladder in various categories of the annual rankings, designed to help parents and students with the higher ed selection process.

CC, a private liberal arts college with about 2,100 students, had tied for first place in 2016 in Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges, but it fell to second place in 2017. It’s now back and continuing to develop innovation campuswide.

As of June 30, CC had raised $14.6 million toward a $40 million goal to develop an innovation project to “bring together inquisitive minds from across campus, the local community and beyond, to explore ideas, identify problems and opportunities, and forge solutions that will have a profound impact on our society and world,” according to its website.

The ranking signifies the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities, and it’s is based on nominations by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans within their category.

CC also moved to 23rd Best Liberal Arts Colleges, up from 24th last year, and has the 10th best undergraduate teaching program among liberal arts schools.

UCCS, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system, ranked 35th, up from 39th in 2017, in Regional Universities of the West. In 2015, it was 51st in that category. The Air Force Academy tied for fifth with the U.S. Naval Academy for “Top Programs at Engineering Schools Whose Highest Degree is a Bachelor’s or Master’s.”

The AFA also was singled out for Best Civil Engineering Program among public schools, second-best aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical program, tied for fourth best in electrical/electronic communications and ranked fifth best in mechanical engineering.

In addition, the AFA tied for second in High School Counselors Top College Picks, with the United States Military Academy and Williams College.

The 2018 data include information on more than 1,800 U.S. universities and colleges, with Princeton University in New Jersey taking the No. 1 spot for the seventh consecutive year in Best National Universities. For the 15th year in a row, Williams College in Massachusetts tops the list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Schools are evaluated on up to 15 indicators of excellence, such as class size, standardized test scores of incoming students and average graduation rate. The data also include schools’ predicted six-year graduation rate. New this year: Postgraduate salary information.

For complete rankings, go to