FPU places high in respected Best College, University rankings

National rankings place Fresno Pacific University high in areas that matter to students

Fresno Pacific University is the Mennonite Brethren institution located in Fresno, Calif. with regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

Success in a major college ranking focused on a university’s benefits to its students—as well as strong showings across other respected Best College and University rankings—highlights the transformational education students receive at Fresno Pacific University.

The Wall Street JournalWashington MonthlyU.S. News & World Report and Money all ranked FPU highly, particularly as a best-value and among schools that help graduates succeed, both of which are primary goals of the university.

“We are pleased the rankings recognize that Fresno Pacific University delivers the transformational benefits of a Christian university education to our students across all program levels,” says Brad Camilleri, vice president of enrollment management. “Whether traditional undergraduates right out of high school or working adults finishing their bachelor’s degree or professionals increasing their impact with a master’s degree, our students improve their own lives and those of their families and communities for generations.”

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal places FPU at number 78 in the United States on its Best Colleges 2024 list of 400 colleges and universities. Among Christian schools, the university’s overall score is second in California and in the top 10 nationally.

WSJ’s revamped system puts student outcomes ahead of an institution’s wealth, national reputation and other more stereotypical factors. Instead, The Journal highlights “the value a school provides to its students,” according to its website. “And some schools with longstanding reputations don’t fare as well when we look at their student outcomes under our new methodology. Brown University and Johns Hopkins University, two of our top 10 for 2022, perform less outstandingly, at Nos. 67 and 99 respectively.”

The Journal, an internationally respected newspaper focused on business and economics, breaks its overall score into four subcategories:

Social Mobility—FPU number 4
Colleges and universities that enhance their students’ social mobility, rewarding those that accept a high proportion of students from lower-income families, maintaining high graduation rates and minimize the costs of attending.

Student Experience—FPU number 42
Colleges where students have the best experience according to surveys of students and graduates.

Salary Impact—FPU number 128
Schools are listed by their impact on graduates’ salaries and how this relates to the actual cost of attending vs. list price. WSJ estimates FPU’s average annual net price is $11,531, which graduates can pay off in one year and eight months.

FPU’s social mobility score is the highest among Christian schools nationwide and the student experience score is second. The overall and salary impact ranks lead schools in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

The WSJ produced no rankings for last year, instead taking time to refocus its efforts on answering two practical and measurable questions: How much will the college improve its students’ chances of graduating on time? And how much will it improve the salaries they earn after receiving their diplomas? These rankings also look at campus diversity and how fast graduates can pay off their education.

The final ranking of the top 400 colleges is based on two pillars:

  • Student and Alumni Survey: Over 60,000 undergraduates and recent undergraduate alumni were asked to provide feedback on colleges that are a great value in terms of tuition, learning environment, degree completion and the likelihood of a higher salary after graduation.
  • Student Outcomes Metrics: A variety of methods around student outcomes determined salary impact, the number of years to pay off net price and graduation rates, all vs. similar colleges. An assessment of level of diversity on campus was also a part of the analysis.
Washington Monthly

Washington Monthly ranks FPU number 48 nationally in its Master’s University category and number 18 in its Western category as a Best Bang for the Buck school. This makes Fresno Pacific the highest-rated Christian school in California for Best Bang for the Buck, second highest private university in the state and third-highest Christian university in the entire category.

These rankings continue an upward trend. Last year FPU was number 64 nationally among master’s universities and 35 for Best Bang for the Buck—West. The year before the university scored 105 and 65, respectively.

In ranking 600 national universities, liberal arts colleges, baccalaureate colleges and master’s universities according to the public good in the areas of social mobility, research and community and national service, Washington Monthly examines areas of inequality such as race and class. The Best Bang for the Buck list uses social mobility to rank schools that “help non-wealthy students obtain marketable degrees at affordable prices,” according to its college guide website.

U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report places Fresno Pacific University number 41 overall in the Master’s Universities—West category. Among these schools FPU is fourth in social mobility and number 12 among best values. In 2022 FPU placed second in social mobility, number 39 overall and 16 Best Values.

FPU has frequently been in the top five in social mobility since the category was created by U.S. News, the magazine that popularized college and university rankings in the U.S. The category measures the rate at which students from low-income backgrounds earn their bachelor’s degree.

“Economically disadvantaged students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics,” states the U.S. News College Guide website. “But some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants.”

Pell Grants are the yardstick because recipients typically come from households earning less than $50,000 per year, though the family income for most Pell Grant recipients is under $40,000.


Money gave FPU 4.5 stars in its new rating system, which ranges from 2.5-5. The personal financial platform also reorganized this year, using a 2.5-star to 5-star, rather than a numerical, ranking. “The new rating system is based on the philosophy that there is not one, singular best college for every student. Instead, there’s a variety of outstanding, high-value colleges across the country,” the company’s website states.

For its Best Colleges ranking, Money’s rates 736 of more than 2,400 four-year public and private nonprofit colleges in the country by quality, affordability and student outcomes.

Qualifying colleges and universities must:

  • Have at least 500 undergraduate students.
  • Have sufficient, reliable data to be analyzed.
  • Not be in financial distress.
  • Have a graduation rate at or above the median for its category (public, private, etc.), or score in the top 25% of graduation rates after accounting for the student body.

Ranked schools were judged in three general categories:

  • Quality of education—including graduation rates, instructor access and outcomes for Pell Grant recipients.
  • Affordability—including net price of a degree, net price paid by students in different income brackets, debt and ability to repay debt.
  • Outcomes—including earnings 10 years after college entry, graduate earnings adjusted for major, economic mobility and return on investment.

Higher education matters

Studies show those who earn a bachelor’s degree make an average of $1.2 million more over their lifetimes over those with only a high school diploma, as well as other financial and social benefits. Despite Rising Costs, College Is Still a Good Investment – Liberty Street Economics (newyorkfed.org)

Fresno Pacific University students are the face of the Central Valley. Some 49 percent of those enrolled at the campuses in Fresno, Merced, Visalia and Bakersfield are first-generation students. In addition, 45 percent identify as Hispanic. In all, 67 percent of students at FPU come from families that earn less than $40,000 per year, and over 98 percent qualify for financial aid.


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