The University of Central Florida is the No. 4 “up-and-coming” school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 best colleges rankings.

UCF achieved its highest ranking in the “up-and-coming” list, which recognizes national universities that “recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus or facilities.” UCF tied for fourth with Clemson University in South Carolina on the list of national schools to watch.

UCF also ranked among the top 100 public universities overall, coming in at No. 97.

“Best Colleges 2012 Edition” ranks more than 1,300 colleges and universities nationwide in more than a dozen categories considering factors such as graduation rates, academic reputation and SAT/ACT scores. The report, known as a guide for helping parents and students choose schools, ranks private and public colleges and universities.

U.S. News published the 2012 college rankings today. The report will be available in print on Sept. 20. View the full list of UCF’s rankings.

“The rankings are proof of the hard work and dedication of UCF’s staff and faculty members, and these rankings also reflect the talent and work ethic of our students,” said UCF President John C. Hitt. “I’m proud of the contributions made by all the members of our UCF community who are building one of America’s great metropolitan research universities.”

The annual rankings reflect UCF’s commitment to quality growth and providing students with access to a high-quality education. The approximate SAT score of 1,249 posted by the fall 2011 freshman class puts UCF in the top 20 percent of colleges and universities nationwide for SAT averages. The fall freshman class also includes a UCF-record 74 National Merit Scholars.

In March, U.S. News & World Report named UCF’s graduate-level counseling program in the College of Education one of the 12 best in the country. Engineering, Education, Computer Science, Healthcare Management, Social Work, Speech-Language Pathology Nursing and Public Administration all made the top 100.

In other recent rankings, Kiplinger and The Princeton Review have recognized a UCF education as one of the best values in the country. UCF also ranks among the top 25 colleges in the nation least likely to leave graduates in debt, according to a Newsweek article. Last month, Forbes named UCF one of the top 50 most-affordable colleges and universities in the nation.