Our Ranking Methodology

Last updated: Jan 24, 2022

What is the purpose of universities.com?

At universities.com, our purpose is to inform and empower consumers as they make decisions about higher education. Universities.com is your #1 resource for choosing your perfect school and program. You can learn about programs, find universities and colleges, and connect with schools for free. Through quality data and research on over 6,000 universities and colleges, we help you make an informed decision about your education.

Why do we rank universities and colleges and their degree programs?

We determine which schools and programs are best using our proprietary ranking algorithm. You choose what's important to you using a set of filters and we show you which schools and programs best meet your needs and preferences.

Where does the data come from?

Our school and degree program rankings algorithm uses the latest and most robust U.S. government data sets, specifically the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and College Scorecard. We continuously revise the metrics and data sets we use to refine our ranking algorithm.

How does Universities.com come up with the program rankings?

  1. We select a set of significant metrics that identify the best colleges and programs
  2. We normalize each college’s position among that set of metrics on a scale from 0 to 1
  3. We assign a weight to each of these metrics based on their relative importance to school or program quality
  4. We give each school or program an overall score by adding up the weighted normalized values for each metric
  5. The overall scores are then ordered from greatest to least to determine the school or program ranking from first to last
  6. Note: for program rankings, we compile the set of schools that offer an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and/or doctoral degree in the selected program

What are the included metrics within the college ranking methodology and how are they weighted?

MetricBest Schools Rankings Best Programs Rankings
Acceptance rate
Standardized testing
Diversity of student body
Retention and Graduation46%18%
First-year retention rate
Graduation rate
Non-white student graduation rate
Pell Grant graduation rate
Instructors and Faculty21%8%
Student-faculty ratio
Percentage of tenured or tenure-track instructors
Percentage of instructional, research, and public services staff that are full time
Diversity of full time instructional, research and public service staff
Financial Resources8%3%
Percentage of undergraduates receiving aid
Average aid package size
Average net price of attendance
Program focus-27%
% of total associate degrees conferred in program
% of total bachelor's degrees conferred in program
% of total master's degrees conferred in program
% of total doctoral degrees conferred in program
Finances after graduation-33%
Median total debt after graduation - associate degrees
Median total debt after graduation - bachelor's degrees
Median earnings for those employed 2 years after graduation - associate degrees
Median earnings for those employed 2 years after graduation - bachelor's degrees
Weights shown may not sum to 100% due to rounding

How can Universities.com’s rankings help me choose the right college or program?

Our rankings tie together a wide range of government data to bring you a comprehensive evaluation of every school and every program. The more information you have about your future school and program, the more prepared you are to declare your choice. Shouldn’t you know which school offers the best career opportunities for your major? How about which school is the highest rated for your major? At Universities.com, our rankings help you determine the best of the best - both for schools and the programs they offer.

You can sort on Universities.com not only by university but also by program. That way you can read about your dream major first and then search for the top schools for that major.

On our site you’ll get access to university rankings, tuition, and other key information for all colleges that you are considering. By using all of our data and rankings to select your college, you will be able to evaluate the highest return on your investment. That means finding the degree that you’ll need to secure the career of your dreams.

Disclaimer: Universities.com may be compensated by some of these schools if you choose to engage with them. However, that does not affect our school or program rankings or editorial content.