The top Texas colleges, with the Carnegie designation of Tier One status, are Rice University, UT, Texas A&M, and UH. The Carnegie ranking- one of the most prestigious- is updated every five years and only lists 115 universities in the top category.
In Spring 2016, four more Texas universities were added to the list:
- University of Texas at Dallas
- University of Texas at Arlington
- Texas Tech University
- University of North Texas
These four colleges were added to The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education list of schools with the “Highest Research Activity” — a major achievement after years of additional state funding flowed into the schools seeking to reach the top tier.
“Tier One,” “Top Tier” and “Nationally Competitive Research University” are terms used interchangeably to refer to universities known for world-class research, academic excellence, an exceptional student body, and the highest levels of innovation, creativity and scholarship. Because of these accomplishments, these universities enjoy a national “brand,” recognition and prestige. These universities are judged based on millions spent in academic research, endowment assets, number of PhD degrees awarded each year, and the number of tenure or tenure-track faculty members who have achieved distinction as a member of one of the National Academies or are Nobel Prize recipients.
UT San Antonio and UT El Paso were also attempting to qualify for Tier One status, but fell short this round. In
November 2009, Texas voters approved Proposition 4, a constitutional amendment implementing the National Research University Fund (NRUF), which allowed approximately $500 million in a dormant Higher Education Fund to be reallocated and provided to the seven Emerging Research Universities as they meet benchmarks determined by the legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. University of Houston was the first to receive NRUF and get Tier One status, but the four recently awarded, brings the total to five out of the seven who attempted.
Comparing Texas colleges, with National University Ranking (per US News and World Report), acceptance rates, number of students, 4 year and 6 year graduation rates, costs, and average ACT scores for admitted students: