Washington Monthly is a bimonthly nonprofit magazine of United States politics and government that is based in Washington, D.C. The magazine is known for its annual ranking of American colleges and universities, which serve as an alternative to the Forbes and US News & World Report rankings.


The magazine's founder is Charles Peters, who started the magazine in 1969 and continued to write the "Tilting at Windmills" column in each issue until 2014.[2] Paul Glastris, former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, has been Washington Monthly's editor-in-chief since 2001. In 2008, the magazine switched from a monthly to a bimonthly publication schedule, citing high publication costs.

Diane Straus Tucker is the magazine's current publisher.[3] Past staff editors of the magazine include Jonathan Alter, Taylor Branch, James Fallows, Joshua Green, David Ignatius, Mickey Kaus, Nicholas Lemann, Suzannah Lessard, Jon Meacham, Timothy Noah, Joe Nocera, and Steven Waldman.[4]

In 2008, the liberal watchdog and advocacy group Common Cause considered acquiring Washington Monthly, but the deal fell apart.[5][6]

Contents and viewpoint

The politics of Washington Monthly are often considered center-left.[7][8][9] Founder Charles Peters refers to himself as a New Deal Democrat and advocates the use of government to address social problems. His columns also frequently emphasized the importance of a vigilant "fourth estate" in keeping government honest.

Washington Monthly features a continuing blog; "Political Animal" was written principally by Kevin Drum for several years, with frequent guest contributions by Washington Monthly's current and alumni editors. In 2008, Steve Benen took over as lead blogger; in 2012, he was succeeded by Ed Kilgore.[10] Kilgore left the magazine in 2015.[11]

In addition to "Political Animal," the magazine's website also hosts "Ten Miles Square," a general blog featuring posts from staff and political scientists, which debuted in 2011,[12] and "College Guide," a blog about higher education, which the magazine began offering in 2009.[13]

College rankings

Washington Monthly's annual college and university rankings,[14] a deliberate alternative college guide to U.S. News and World Report and Forbes College Rankings among domestic publications, began as a research report in 2005. It was introduced as an official set of rankings in the September 2006 issue.[15]

Its "National Universities Rankings", most recently published in 2016, began as a research report in 2005, with rankings appearing in the September 2006 issue. It ranks colleges on numerous metrics revolving around academic quality, faculty, and alumni outcomes as well as factoring in "contribution to the public good in numerous categories".

The following are elements in the Washington Monthly rankings.[16][17][18]

  • Academic quality: a survey of the institution's academic structure, and general program
  • Retention: first year retention rate, and graduation rate of the institutions
  • Faculty resources: average class size, faculty degree level, student-faculty ratio, and proportion of full-time faculty
  • Social Mobility: recruiting and graduating low-income students
  • Research: producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs
  • Service: encouraging students to give something back to their country

Current national rankings

Top national universities2015 Rank[19]LocationTop liberal arts colleges2015 Rank[19]Location
UC San Diego1 CaliforniaBryn Mawr College1 Pennsylvania
UC Riverside2 CaliforniaCarleton College2 Minnesota
Texas A&M College Station3 TexasBerea College3 Kentucky
UC Berkeley4 CaliforniaSwarthmore College4 Pennsylvania
Stanford University5 CaliforniaHarvey Mudd College5 California
UC Los Angeles6 CaliforniaReed College6 Oregon
University of Washington7 WashingtonPomona College7 California
Harvard University8 MassachusettsBates College8 Maine
Georgia Institute of Technology9Georgia (U.S. state) GeorgiaHaverford College9 California
University of Texas El Paso10 TexasNew College of Florida10 Florida
UNC at Chapel Hill11 North CarolinaKnox College11 Illinois
Case Western Reserve12 OhioMacalester College12 Minnesota
University of Michigan Ann Arbor13 MichiganWilliams College13 Massachusetts
UC Santa Barbara14 CaliforniaWesleyan University14 Connecticut
MIT15 MassachusettsGrinnell College15 Iowa


The Washington Monthly receives financial support from the Lumina Foundation to provide coverage of post-secondary education-related issues.[20] The magazine has also received funding from the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy,[21] the Carnegie Corporation of New York,[22] and individual supporters, including Warren Buffett and Markos Kounalakis.[4]