University ranked as top performer in social mobility among public Texas schools

  Monday, September 18, 2023
  Around Campus

By Amanda Alaniz

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – SEPT. 18, 2023 – UTRGV’s reputation as one of the top value schools in the country just got another boost, jumping up 72 positions on the U.S. News and World Report 2023-2024 Best Colleges list, released Monday.

One year after being ranked 299th in the country, UTRGV has climbed to 227th among all national universities. UTRGV, which celebrated its eighth anniversary this academic year, ranked higher than long-established institutions like Belmont University, University of New Mexico, UT Arlington, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, North Texas, UTSA, UTEP, University of Memphis and University of Nevada Las Vegas, to name a few.

The U.S. News rankings are the oldest college rankings system in the country, and long have used reputation, prestige and exclusivity as key criteria. Based on recent criticism from top educational leaders and organizations – who say some of the data provided by universities is skewed and that the rankings don’t focus enough on value and affordability – U.S. News added several new objective metrics this year.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said that, while UTRGV has recently earned top rankings from other publications that focus more on value and performance, Monday’s U.S. News rankings are proof that the university’s reputation is spreading throughout the country.

“I’ve been in higher education for more than 40 years and I have never seen a university improve their ranking in U.S. News and World Report by 72 positions in one year. That is just unheard of,” Bailey said. “Our continued ascension in these rankings helps validate the other top rankings we have received in performance-based ranking systems.”


U.S. News also ranked UTRGV first as Top Performer in Social Mobility among Public Texas Universities and 12th among public and private national universities.

The magazine creates its Social Mobility list by measuring how well schools graduated students who received Pell Grants – typically from households earning less than $50,000 annually. Rankings are totaled combining two factors – Pell graduation rates and Pell graduation performance.

Bailey said the university’s goal for students has not wavered.

“We want every student who enters the campus to graduate and be the next success story. UTRGV prides itself on being the Future of Texas, and that starts with our students,” he said. “We want to offer every opportunity we can to have each Vaquero walk across that graduation stage and not struggle to receive a top-quality education.”

Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree, with eligibility based on a student’s FAFSA results. Grant recipients do not have to repay.

The university has helped ensure that more than 120,000 UTRGV students have had access to a college degree since the university opened in 2015, with almost $575 million awarded.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, UTRGV has awarded more than $80 million to more than 18,000 students.


  • UTRGV ranked sixth overall among Public Schools in Texas and 123rd in the nation among Public Universities.
  • The university also ranked third among Texas Public Universities for its Undergraduate Teaching.

U.S. News and World Report created the Undergraduate Teaching list after conducting a survey in spring and summer 2023. The schools on the list received the most votes from top college administrators for putting a particular focus on undergraduate teaching.

  • UTRGV also was recognized for its Undergraduate Engineering Program (no doctorate), ranking third among public institutions in Texas and 107th in the country.  

The undergraduate engineering program rankings were based solely on peer assessment surveys. U.S. News surveyed deans and senior faculty members of undergraduate engineering programs accredited by ABET, the engineering accrediting body.  

U.S. News evaluated nearly 1,500 four-year bachelor's degree-granting U.S. institutions on as many as 19 measures for its 39th Best Colleges Rankings.

Visit to view the full list of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings. 


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.