Chancellor's Blog

Spring Commencement 2018

UW-River Falls: 8th in the nation

September 23, 2019 | Dean Van Galen


When you wake up to find an email from one of your prominent alumni referring you to an article about the university in a major national media source—well, it causes a bit of apprehension. I experienced that feeling earlier this month when I was sent a link to a Wall Street Journal article by not one but two alumni that serve on our Foundation Board.

A series of articles had been published, summarizing various results from the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings for 2020. In their fourth year, these rankings are intended to help prospective college students assess their higher education options based on factors identified as those most important to students and their families. One such factor relates to a question they posed to over 170,000 current students across the nation, basically asking: Is your college worth the cost?” 

There, ranked at number eight, was UW-River Falls. Our institution was the only university listed from the Upper Midwest, public or private, and we were tied with highly-reputed institutions such as Yale. 

  1. Brigham Young University-Provo 
  2. United States Naval Academy
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Virginia Military Institute
  5. Louisiana Tech University
  6. Princeton University
  7. University of Wyoming
  8. Bowdoin College
    Missouri University of Science and Technology
    University of Wisconsin-River Falls
    Washington and Lee University
    Yale University

To have UW-River Falls ranked eighth in the nation seems to have surprised some people (no, we did not pay to get in the rankings!). I, however, was not surprised. UWRF is a public university that offers an exceptional student experience at an affordable price. Our annual tuition, fees, room and board are just around $14,500 for Wisconsin residents. We offer guaranteed scholarships based on academic achievement to eligible incoming freshmen, as well as millions of dollars in grants, scholarships, and financial aid. UW-River Falls graduates have relatively low levels of debt upon graduation, often the lowest amongst all of our peer schools in the UW System. 

But value isn’t only about cost. It’s also about our commitment to excellence and the opportunities students have throughout their time at UW-River Falls. We have great faculty who are committed to teaching and mentoring students. We support students’ engagement in activities such as study abroad, undergraduate research and internships. We encourage our students to get involved outside of the classroom, be it through student organizations, athletics, volunteering or recreational activities. 

Many universities like UW-River Falls boast about providing a “private college education at a public school price.” I think the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings confirm that, among the many who make that claim, we have earned those bragging rights. Best of all, the eighth in the nation ranking is based on the perspectives of those who would know best—our students. 

What are the takeaways? UW-River Falls is one of the best college values in the nation. And, early morning email messages are not always bad!