The University of Montevallo moved up — again — on the college-rankings ladder and is the highest-ranked public university in Alabama to be included in the regional master’s-level list in the 2009 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, released Friday, Aug. 22.

UM, in its division, also posted a No. 2 ranking in the South in a category called “Great Schools-Great Prices,” (called “Best Colleges: Best Values” online) noting schools that are the best values.

In the “Great Schools-Great Prices” category, only Loyola University in New Orleans ranked higher than Montevallo among schools in the South. Others included in that listing are Converse College in South Carolina, Mercer University in Georgia and the Citadel in South Carolina.

According to a spokesperson for U.S. News, “The formula used to determine which colleges and universities offer the best value relates a school’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2009 U.S. News ranking, to the 2007-2008 net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.

“Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included because we work on the premise that the most significant values are among colleges that are above average academically,” the U.S. News official said.

Montevallo continues to be ranked among the top master’s-level universities throughout the South. In the category of “Best Universities — Master’s” (schools that provide a full range of undergraduate programs and a variety of master’s-level programs), UM moved up from a tie for 50th place in the 2008 listings to a tie for 47th place in the 2009 rankings. Montevallo is the highest-ranked public university in Alabama to be included in that category of Tier-One listings.

As the top Alabama public school in the regional master’s-level rankings, Montevallo earned high marks for academic reputation, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, entering freshmen test scores and class rank, small class sizes and low student-faculty ratio.

Among public master’s-level schools in the South, Montevallo moved up one place, from 20th in 2008 to 19th in 2009.