The University of Central Florida has one of the 12 best graduate-level counseling programs in the nation.

The U.S. News & World Report Graduate Schools guide ranked the College of Education program 12th in the nation in its annual rankings released today. The counseling program rivals programs that have been around for more than 50 years.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sandra Robinson, the dean of the college. “It’s extraordinary to be so young and to be ranked so well in a field that has hundreds of programs.”

Engineering, Education, Computer Science, Healthcare Management, Social Work, Speech-Language Pathology Nursing and Public Administration all made the top 100 in the magazine’s latest edition, and several other UCF programs also were ranked.

Counseling was the highest-ranked program at UCF. The accredited program prepares students to become school counselors, mental health counselors and marriage and family counselors.

“We have an award-winning faculty,” Robinson said. “This will certainly help us continue to recruit the very best candidates from around the world.”

The College of Engineering and Computer Science ranked 70th, and the college’s specialty programs in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering ranked 54th and 66th respectively.

The College of Nursing came in at 79th, Healthcare Management ranked 46th, Speech-Language Pathology ranked 87th, Social Work ranked 95th, and Public Administration ranked 90th. Other programs ranked included Clinical Psychology and the part-time MBA program.

To develop this year’s rankings U.S. News analyzed more than 12,000 graduate programs. Rankings are based on expert opinions about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.

The rankings are available online. Highlights will be published in U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 edition of the Best Graduate Schools book available on newsstands beginning April 5.

In its most recent rankings of undergraduate programs, U.S. News & World Reported named UCF a national university to watch. This category recognizes national universities that “recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students, campus or facilities.”

UCF also placed fifth in awarding engineering graduate degrees to Hispanic students, according to Diverse: Issues In Higher Education’s Top 100 Producers of Minority Degrees. The university ranked 12th for total undergraduate degrees awarded to Hispanic students and 18th for total undergraduate degrees awarded to African-American students.