Fresno State’s efforts to improve its graduation rate were recognized in the latest U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of colleges and universities, which put Fresno State at No. 12 among all public regional universities in the western United States.

The magazine’s “Best Colleges 2016” list was released Wednesday.

The ranking recognized a 3-percentage-point increase in the graduation rate of the most recent cohort (the 2008 full-time freshman class) and a 1-percentage-point increase in the six-year graduation rate – based on the average of the last four cohorts.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro said the U.S. News data actually lags behind most recent figures, and he expects Fresno State to move up in rankings in coming years. Castro announced at the faculty and staff fall assembly in August that the University’s graduation rate has improved 9 percentage points in the past two years.

The ranking covers schools in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. When looking at all private and public universities in the West, Fresno State ranked 52nd.

The ratings are based on such factors as freshman retention rate, graduation rate, SAT/ACT scores, the number of full-time faculty, student/faculty ratio and class size. One of the major measurements is ratings by peer institutions, an area in which Fresno State can improve, Castro said.

“We will work more effectively to inform our peers about the great strides we are making in strengthening our academic programs. They will hear more from us regarding the good news generated by our extraordinary students and faculty,” he said.

Fresno State’s ranking is similar to last year’s when it was ranked 11th public and 46th overall in the western region. The magazine identifies regional universities as those that provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs. Unlike national universities, regional schools offer few, if any, doctoral programs.

Fresno State offers 63 undergraduate degree programs, 43 master’s degree programs, an educational specialist graduate degree and three doctoral programs.