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The 2021 list of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report includes, for the first time ever, a ranking of undergraduate computer science programs, and UCI placed 25th overall of the 481 programs evaluated and 12th of the public universities. Furthermore, for subcategory rankings, UCI placed sixth overall in software engineering and 17th in data analytics/science.

UCI Student Center

“As one of the largest CS programs in the U.S. with 2,328 undergraduate students, and as one of the premier U.S. research universities, our program offers unparalleled flexibility and a multitude of specialization tracks for our undergraduates,” says Alex Nicolau, distinguished professor and chair of the Computer Science Department in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). “We are one of the very few departments in the country to be housed in a school dedicated to information and computer sciences, giving our students an extraordinary breadth of opportunities and coverage of the field unmatched by all but very few places around the country and the world.”

Senior computer science major Natalie Aguinaldo agrees. “UCI’s computer science program is one of the best in the nation because we have our own school dedicated to information and computer sciences,” says Aguinaldo, who serves as president of the ICS Student Council. “Our students have opportunities to explore and be exposed to different computer science topics, which ultimately help us narrow down our interests before we enter the workforce.” She further adds that as a software engineer intern at Microsoft this summer, she was able to leverage many of the concepts her professors emphasized in both lower- and upper-division courses. “Our major courses and requirements do a great job of preparing us to succeed in the industry.”

The U.S. News rankings are based on the judgements of deans and senior faculty members of computer science departments at institutions across the country.

UCI overall was ranked eighth-best public university in the nation on the U.S. News list and second in the subcategory of social mobility. For more than 35 years, the annual U.S. News report has been one of the most influential in the country, with ratings derived from 15 diverse indicators of academic quality. Evaluators considered 1,922 institutions for the 2021 list.

In addition to the U.S. News ranking, UCI was ranked 18th in the nation and 21st in the world in the 2020 Top Computer Science Universities Ranking published by Guide2Research. Its ranking of prestigious computer science scholars also featured 37 scholars from UCI, with Computer Science Professors Pierre BaldiRamesh Jain and Gene Tsudik at the top of the list.

“Given our large and rapidly growing faculty, who are not just world class researchers but also dedicated educators, these rankings are not unexpected,” says Nicolau. “Indeed, such rankings tend to lag behind the changes happening on the ground, and we look forward to continuing to move higher in future years, to reflect our strengths and rapid quantitative and qualitative growth.”

— Shani Murray