RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new ranking from the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University was ranked 50th in the country for fiscal research expenditures.

According to the university, this ranking milestone comes well ahead of the timeline set out by VCU’s Quest 2028 goals. In 2021, the university ranked 58th.

The university credits the ranking achievement, in part, to the university’s push to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

“The importance of this achievement is more than just hitting a target number,” Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System, said. “The NSF ranking shows where VCU stands related to our peers and more importantly, to how far and fast we’ve come. Our growth is one of the fastest among Virginia universities and demonstrates our impact and continued success and stature as a public research university committed to transformative innovation.”

The NSF calculates its rankings by each university’s research expenditures — including awarded research grants, initiatives, endowments and foundations — throughout the fiscal year.

In 2021, VCU received $363 million in sponsored program activity — a record for the institution. Earlier this fall, VCU announced that it had passed the $400 million mark for sponsored program activities — with the finalized total for the fiscal year 2022 reaching $405.6 million.