UCF continues to be recognized as one of the nation’s top and most innovative universities — rising as an education innovator renowned for science, health and technology education, including nursing, which has rapidly advanced to become one of the nation’s best, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best Colleges rankings.

This year’s ranking places UCF as highest-ranked school in Florida for innovation. UCF has ranked in the top 20 for innovation nationally for six consecutive years.

Established in 1963, UCF has accomplished in decades what others have taken a century or more to achieve. As one of the youngest universities in the country, UCF has emerged as one of the nation’s most groundbreaking institutions — continuing to advance in rankings from Washington Monthly and The New York Times. Today, UCF ranks No. 14 for Most Innovative School by U.S. News and World Report — moving six places from last year. Earning this recognition means innovative practices and strategies are embedded across every aspect of what UCF does, from academic offerings to research.

UCF provides highly-qualified and compassionate nurses needed to help solve the national workforce shortage, develops novel technologies to better diagnose disease and advances space exploration for humankind. These efforts and others contribute to how UCF unleashes the potential of people and ideas to positively change the world — which has earned recognition nationally. UCF is ranked No. 124 among All National Universities — a 13-spot gain over last year. Among Public Universities, UCF is the No. 64 institution.

“Our commitment to access, excellence, and innovation provides incredible opportunities for students from all backgrounds to earn success and to positively impact our community and our world,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “Our continued rise in the rankings would not be possible without the incredible work of our faculty, staff, and students, and we will continue to invest in their success.”

A Leader in Social Mobility

UCF aspires to be the No. 1 provider of diverse talent, an attribute corporate partners and industry leaders demand of higher education today. Our commitment to social mobility is critical to achieving this aspiration by creating opportunity for earned success. U.S. News & World Report acknowledges our efforts to empower students from all backgrounds to succeed and earn their degrees with the No. 35 ranking for Top Performers on Social Mobility. Over the past year UCF has risen 24 spots — a significant gain that emphasizes our focus on student success. UCF was also recently recognized by The Wall Street Journal for social mobility efforts — ranking 52nd nationally and 2nd in Florida.

Innovation Is Embedded in UCF’s Culture

Since our founding, UCF has creatively approached teaching and research, achieving a reputation for success through innovation. This recognition positions UCF within the company of top-15 ranked institutions that have been around much longer — including Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Stanford and the University of Michigan.

Among the Nation’s Best Nursing Programs Addressing the Nursing Shortage

As the nation is dealing with a nursing shortage, using innovative technology like simulation to meet this need is critical to advancing nursing education. UCF is ranked No. 31 for Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs — an incredible 65 spot increase over two years and 20 spot increase from last year.

“UCF’s continued rise in national rankings show the value of our nursing degrees to our communities,” says Mary Lou Sole, dean of UCF’s College of Nursing. “We are fueling the talent pipeline with Knight nurses who receive a high-quality education and are prepared to provide compassionate care and clinical excellence. As we build the College of Nursing for the future, we will unleash more potential in our students, faculty and alumni to continue to innovate nursing education and address the nation’s nursing shortage.”

UCF’s College of Nursing is internationally recognized for its use of simulation, including an accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.

The college is among an elite group of 20 simulation programs worldwide — and the only one in Florida — to earn the Healthcare Simulation Standards endorsement from the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning.

A $5.5 million gift from the Helene Fuld Health Trust will help UCF to remain at the forefront of nursing education and innovation. It will establish a state-of-the-art simulation center at the new, larger nursing teaching facility in Lake Nona’s Medical City. Funded by the Florida Legislature, philanthropic organizations like Dr. Phillips Charities, industry partners such as AdventHealth and Orlando Health, the future College of Nursing building includes learning labs equipped with advanced technology like virtual reality.

UCF’s accelerated second degree bachelor’s in nursing is an undergraduate academic offering that helps individuals reinvent their career path while providing in-demand talent. Among recent graduates of the program is Kris Hysler ’23, who previously earned a degree in theater and was working as a bartender before she was inspired to make a change.

The College of Nursing’s ranking is also a reflection of the excellence of our faculty, including 27 who are fellows of national organizations. These respected experts include Associate Professor Ladda Thiamwong, a healthy aging researchers who recently named an American Academy of Nursing fellow — becoming UCF’s 11th nursing faculty member to earn the prestigious honor.

A Legacy in Engineering That Contributes to Space Exploration

Additionally, UCF is recognized among the Best Engineering Schools that offer doctorates in the nation. Our origin as an engineering school created to power the space industry continues to be one of UCF’s greatest strengths in innovation. Over the past year, some of UCF’s most notable space innovations include:

  • Developing a method to use lunar regolith and saltwater to create bricks for cosmic construction projects. Associate Professor Ranajay Ghosh and his research team’s technique may help NASA in its goal to develop a sustainable presence on the moon — and potentially farther in space.
  • Developing less toxic chemical models of thruster plumes, which can propel spacecrafts and keep communication satellites in place, for moon and Mars landers. Mechanical engineering doctoral student Marley Albright ’23 will complete this work through the prestigious NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities award, which was given to about 60 students nationally in 2023.
  • Creating a morphing hypersonic engine for ultra-fast travel with speeds of at least 4,600 mph — which may accelerate space travel. While this technology has been around since the ’60s, UCF Professor Kareem Ahmed has been making strides to making it more efficient and sustainable.

These recent U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings continue UCF’s recognition for innovation and excellence. In March, the organization ranked more than 21 UCF graduate programs among the best and in the top 100. In January, UCF ranked No. 8 for overall Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.