Three Kentucky schools made U.S. News & World Report's annual survey of the top 100 liberal arts colleges and universities.
Centre College placed 42nd in the rankings, which were released Tuesday morning. Berea College was 71st, and Transylvania University 81st.
The University of Kentucky ranked 124th among national universities, in a four-way tie with the universities of Arizona and Utah, and Ohio University in Athens. That listing includes public and private universities.
UK ranked behind seven of its 11 Southeastern Conference foes: Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina.
UK is now 59th among national public universities in the rankings.
"We analyze a number of rankings including this one as part of a continual evaluation of our progress," said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. "Our primary focus is on the metrics we use internally in comparison with other leading institutions."
UK was ranked 129th a year ago.
The U.S. News rankings are generally considered the most prestigious because of their focus on academic quality.
On a separate list of Southern colleges and universities, Kentucky's presence was more pronounced. Murray State was ranked 25th followed by Western Kentucky (36), Thomas More (49), Morehead State (51), Eastern Kentucky University (63), Campbellsville (71) and University of the Cumberlands (75).
Transylvania University President R. Owen Williams said he was pleased that Transylvania moved up seven places since last year. He said Transylvania's goal is to continue to move up to the top 50.
"We take the U.S. News rankings seriously," Williams said. "However, we don't live and die by them."
Centre President John Roush said he was happy to note that his school moved up five spots.
"We are always gratified to know that external barometers gauge our mission a success as well," Roush said. "Indeed, by every external measure, we are acknowledged as doing something right."
Berea public relations director Tim Jordan said the college does not promote its U.S. News ranking.
The U.S. News rankings are based on a formula that considers measures of academic quality including graduation rates, peer assessments among colleges, and academic-reputation surveys by high school counselors.