Provost Peter Spear says the ranking weigh the university's financial resources and selectivity. Spear says that doesn't necessarily mean individual students are served well.
The ranking comes a few days after Madison was listed as the nation's third-best party school by the Princeton Review.
UW Madison has been number seven in Best Colleges rankings compiled by U.S. News and World Report for the last three years.
They compare 168 public colleges offering degrees to the doctoral level.