Valparaiso University is the No. 1 master’s university, as announced today in Washington Monthly’s annual college rankings. According to the magazine’s system, colleges are ranked by their contribution to the country, and it recognizes institutions that provide an outstanding education while maintaining affordability.

“This tremendous honor is a testament to what we already know — not only do Valpo students and alumni receive an exceptional, affordable education, they combine knowledge learned in the classroom with virtues of integrity and character to make a positive difference in communities across the country and around the world,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., University president.

Criteria include cutting-edge research and scholarship, recruiting and graduating low-income students and civic engagement. The rankings include community service hours relative to school size, and at Valpo students annually perform more than 220,000 hours of community outreach and service learning.

Valpo students and alumni have a deep commitment to making the world a better place, and the University regularly appears in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. Valpo’s Engineers Without Borders has traveled to Tanzania and Kenya to help the communities abroad. And, Valpo’s nursing and health professions students regularly travel to India, Thailand, Costa Rica and Nicaragua on service-learning trips.

Affordability is also a key component of the Washington Monthly ranking. The magazine reports that many colleges and universities fail to enroll low-income students seeking a bachelor’s degree and the economic mobility it provides. The rankings consider the number of Pell Grant recipients, graduation rates and financial assistance. Valpo annually awards more than $80 million in financial assistance to all students, and the University’s student loan default rate of 4.4 is well below the national average of 13.7.

Valpo moved up two spots from last year to No. 1 in the master’s university category.

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