Published on October 23, 2023

UTRGV ranked as No. 1 university in Texas by Washington Monthly

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 28, 2023 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Monday started the 2023-24 academic year as the No. 1 university in Texas, based on Washington Monthly magazine’s annual college guide and rankings.

According to Washington Monthly, instead of rewarding schools for their prestige, wealth and exclusivity, its rankings give points to universities that help non-wealthy students earn remunerative degrees, encourage students to vote and serve their country, and produce the scholars and scholarship that drive economic growth and human betterment.

After ranking second in Texas behind Texas A&M last year, UTRGV now has taken the top spot as Washington Monthly’s No. 1 university in the state.

Overall, UTRGV ranks 31st among all national public universities, ahead of schools like Rutgers, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa State and North Carolina State.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the rankings reflect the university’s growing reputation as the best value university in Texas.

“Our continued success is not an accident,” Bailey said. “It is the result of the hard work of our students and their families, our faculty and staff, and the tremendous support we receive from so many people throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Together, in just eight years, we have built a university that is accessible, affordable and of high quality, one that is helping transform the entire region through education and healthcare.”

UTRGV also made the Washington Monthly rankings in several other areas:

  • 2nd among public universities in the southern region of the United States for Best Bang for the Buck.
  • 1st in Texas and 2nd in the country among public schools for performance of Pell Grant students.
  • 1st in Texas and 4th in the nation among public schools for net price of attendance.
  • 1st in Texas and 9th in the nation among public schools for social mobility.


On Monday – and for the fourth straight year – UTRGV recorded a first-day enrollment of more than 32,000 students.

Among the 32,442 Vaqueros starting the new school year were 5,700 incoming freshmen.

UTRGV also had a first-day enrollment of more than 4,000 graduate students – again for the fourth straight year – including a school record of 530 doctoral students.

Enrollment figures are not official until the 12th class day.


The record number of 530 doctoral students (as of Monday, Aug. 28) reflects UTRGV’s commitment to expanding educational opportunities.

In 2015, UTRGV’s inaugural year, the university had four doctoral programs. It now has 13, including seven that started over the past two years. Five additional doctoral programs are currently under development.

“It is important for us to offer new programs at every level – undergraduate, master’s and doctoral,” Bailey said.

“Our goal is to keep our brightest and most talented students in the Valley, and the expansion of our academic offerings is providing opportunities that previously were unavailable close to home.”


UTRGV also starts the new academic year with historic student success data milestones.

  • UTRGV’s first-year retention rate of 80.2% on the first day of class was the second- highest in school history, and higher than last year’s state average of 78.8%. (Final retention numbers will not be certified until later this fall.)
  • UTRGV’s four-year graduation rate of 34% on the first day was the highest in school history. (Final graduation rate numbers will not be certified until later this fall.)
  • Later this semester, UTRGV will surpass 50,000 total graduates since it opened in 2015. That’s 50,000 new doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, scientists and a range of other professions that UTRGV has prepared for the global workforce.
  • UTRGV received great news last week when the UT System Board of Regents approved a plan to freeze tuition and mandatory academic fees for the next two years at System institutions. UTRGV already has the lowest average total academic costs and lowest average net academic costs of System’s eight academic institutions.

Adding to the growing student numbers and successes at UTRGV are a series of impressive rankings from organizations and publications around the country.

  • UTRGV recently ranked 3rd as the fastest growing doctoral public institution in the nation – and 1st in Texas – during the 2011-2021 decade. This is the sixth straight year UTRGV has ranked in the Top 10.
  • UTRGV recently ranked 5th nationally and 2nd in the state among the Top 10 schools offering students more economic opportunity and mobility.

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