Best Colleges In America Rankings: CSULB #4 U.S. News & World Report has ranked CSULB the fourth best university among all public master’s universities in the western United States in its 2009 guide of America’s Best Colleges Guide. The West region includes 13 states from Texas to California to Washington.The #4 ranking is one higher than the university received last year. The guide also lists CSULB as the 25th best among the more than 115 western public and private master’s universities listed in the guide’s top four tiers, also an improvement from #28 last year. “It is always nice to receive a high rating in any academic rankings. It is a tribute to the ongoing efforts of our great faculty and staff,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “However, it is particularly difficult for large public universities to rank well under the current U.S.News & World Report methodology. Most of the criteria overwhelmingly favors small private institutions and underestimates the highly significant social and economic contributions of public universities.“Still, we are pleased with where Cal State Long Beach placed in this year’s U.S.News rankings, especially among our peer institutions,” President Alexander added. “We’re also proud of our ranking in the ‘Least Debt’ category, which again shows that students do not have to spend a fortune or go deeply into debt to receive one of the best higher education experiences in the nation.”CSULB ranked third lowest in the “Least Debt” category among master’s universities in the west, with 39 percent of graduates leaving the campus with an average debt of $10,183. This 39 percent statistic makes the campus the sixth lowest among all master’s universities nationwide. The Beach trails Western Carolina University, the lowest, which is at 32 percent with an average graduate debt load of $10,183. The lowest was Cameron University in Oklahoma, with 39 percent of grads leaving with $6,500 in debt. The guide also gave nod to CSULB’s acclaimed College of Engineering as one of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the nation, with a ranking of 38th out of 50 universities. In U.S. News & World Report’s survey methodology, colleges provide data for up to 15 indicators of academic excellence. Each factor is assigned a weight that reflects publication officials’ judgment regarding how much a measure matters. Finally, the colleges in each category are ranked against their peers in the areas of peer assessment, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving rate. As defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, institutions in the universities-master’s category provide a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s level programs. They also offer few, if any, doctoral programs.CSULB is one of the few public universities in this category that offers an independent doctoral program. In 2005, CSULB and five other CSU campuses were given legislative approval to begin offering a doctorate in Education, known as the Ed.D., when landmark legislation Senate Bill (SB) 724 was signed into law. The campus also offers other joint doctoral programs with nearby University of California campuses and private universities.