CollegeEvaluator's Ranking Methodology

We rank U.S. colleges and universities based on analysis of admissions, financial, campus services & life, learning opportunities, and more academic data from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, we collect college data that is not provided from U.S. Department of Education or out-date data such as current year tuition by ourselves in order to rank schools accurately and rigorously.
The data is used differently according to school type/category – National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities, Community Colleges, Faith-related schools, Arts, Music & Design Schools, and the state best colleges.

Common Criteria

  • Students/Academic Excellence: Obviously, the academic and student excellence is an very important factor to evaluate schools. In addition, this may be the first step when student/parent start to find schools – How much tight to admit the school and How the test scores (SAT/ACT) of enrolled students distributed.
  • Preferred and Favored Enrollment rate: It represents how many students actually enrolled among accepted students to the school. This rate can be an important factor to choose schools, especially, when students are accepted multiple schools that are evaluated similar academically and reputationally. The schools having higher enrollment rate can be more preferred and favored schools by students. In addition, we consider the retention rate to evaluate schools in perspective of level of preferred and favored.
  • Completion In Time: The graduation rate indicates the average proportion of a graduating class earning a degree in 150% normal time, for example earning BS degree in six years (or less) at 4-years (or high) schools.
  • Qualified Faculty: Qualified instructors smaller and class sizes are more attractive to students. To this matter, faculty salary, rate of full-time faculties, student to faculty ratio, and highest degrees of full time faculties are considered.
  • Learning Opportunities: The options of on-campus learning opportunities and services are frequently considered by enrolled or future students. Quality of distance learning, teacher certification, ROTC programs can be reasons to choose the school among similar colleges when a students narrow down the school list.
  • Net Price and Financial Support: The average amount of financial aid including grants and scholarship aid affects the net price for the school. In addition, the average loan amount and loan default rate are also considered for ranking since the net price is one of crucial factors when choosing colleges.
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National Universities are 4-years or high schools offering diverse areas of programs through bachelor's degree to doctorate degree such as Harvard and Stanford. In order to rank the national universities, we consider and weigh following data:
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (30%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (20%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (15%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (20%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (5%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (10%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
A liberal arts college is a college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences. A liberal arts college aims to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. Many liberal arts colleges offer B.S. degree (or lower), but some schools also provide graduate programs, but in limited area.
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (25%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (20%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (15%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (20%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (7%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (13%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
A community college is a 2-4 years college that focuses on associate degree or certificate programs. Most community colleges are public, but some schools are private, also called junior colleges. Many community college students transfer to 4 year colleges to extend their study and get B.S. degree.
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Completion In Time (20%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (30%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (25%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (25%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
Regional Universities have undergraduate and graduate programs (mostly Master’s degree), but the offered major programs are limited. We rank the universities by standard federal regions.
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (15%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (25%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (15%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (15%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (15%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (15%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (20%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (20%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (15%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (12%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (20%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (13%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
The faith-based colleges, including Christian colleges and Bible colleges, is dedicated to the integration of Christian faith and learning in traditional academic fields.
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (20%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (20%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (15%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (12%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (20%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (13%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator
For the college ranking in a state, only 4 years (or high) colleges are considered and evaluated. The four year colleges include national universities, liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and special purpose colleges like faith-based colleges. In addition, colleges that does not have enough data to evaluate or not qualified with low scores are excluded from the state ranking.
FactorSub FactorsData Source
Students/Academic Excellence (15%) Acceptance Rates, SAT/ACT Scores U.S. Department of Education
Preferred and Favored (15%) Admission Yield (Enrollment Rates), Retention Rates, Transfer-out Rates U.S. Department of Education
Completion In Time (20%) Graduation Rate, Retention Rate U.S. Department of Education
Qualified Faculty (15%) Number of Faculty, Student to Faculty Ratio, Faculty Salary, Faculty Degrees U.S. Department of Education
Learning Opportunities (20%) Distance Learning, On-Comapus Services, Special Learning Programs(ex. ROTC, Teacher Certification Program) U.S. Department of Education
Net Price and Financial Support (15%) Financial aid amount/rate, Student loan amount/rate, Net Price U.S. Department of Education, Self-researched by CollegeEvaluator