Delaware State University moved up to 12th in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of public and private Historically Black College and Universities.

Among public HBCUs, the university is the fourth highest-ranked, trailing only North Carolina A&T University, Florida A&M University and North Carolina Central University. Behind Delaware State University among public institutions is Morgan State University.

DSU ranked 13th in 2017.

Delaware State University President Wilma Mishoe said the university’s continued elevation in the HBCU rankings means the institution is moving in the right direction.

“While being ranked 12th is very respectable, we firmly believe Delaware State University’s best is yet to come,” said Mishoe. “As we strive for and achieve higher levels of excellence, our continued future rise in the ranking will be just one of many positive results of our earnest efforts here at Delaware State University.”

The magazine’s rankings are based on retention and graduation rates — 22 percent of the ranking criteria scoring. The other categories and the weight they are given include peer assessment, 25 percent; financial resources, 10 percent; and alumni giving, 5 percent, along with other areas. Social mobility — a new category weighted at 8 percent — measures a school’s success at graduating low-income students.

According to Kimberley Sudler, associate vice president for DSU Institutional Research, Planning and Analytics, the university can attribute its increase in the ranking in part to how it has sustained some of the highest levels of student persistence in its history.

“It is important to note that the rankings use four-year averages in freshmen retention and graduation rates, which means DSU has performed well not only during one year, but has sustained it over four,” said Sudler. “The university has also made dedicated efforts to increase faculty compensation and alumni support continues to increase, both which are factors in the rankings.”

Spelman College held unto its first-place ranking, followed by Howard University at second and Hampton University at third.