College ranking lists are important. While some people simply find these lists and rankings to be fascinating, many soon-to-be college students, aspiring professionals, as well as those in academia and industry, rely on the information these lists provide to make important decisions.
Our editorial team creates multiple lists that are unique to this site. They include, but are not limited to the Best Colleges in America, the Top Nursing Schools, the Top Colleges in Social Media and more. We also feature composite or side-by-side comparisons of other education publishers’ major college rankings (see below). By producing our own ranking lists in addition to reporting on other publications’ rankings, we feel that we are able to weed out inconsistencies, eliminate bias, and provide a more accurate, complete view of college standings.
Popular US College Rankings
College Rankings by Major
Notwithstanding the importance and legitimacy of ranking lists, readers should view lists with the understanding that there are no set standards or universal guidelines governing ranking lists; each organization has their own set of guidelines and methodologies.
Other major college rankings publications:
- US News & World Report
Arguably the most famous college ranking publication as it has been active for almost three decades. However, it’s important to note that the US News & World Report does not rank any public universities in the nation’s top twenty on their list of best colleges.
- Princeton Review
Of all the college ranking publications the Princeton Review produces one of the widest varieties of college rankings. These include Best Colleges, Party Schools, Jock Schools, and Happiest Students, to name a few. Their college ranking reports are based on survey feedback received from hundreds of thousands of students across the United States. Their wide range of college rankings can be found in their book: The Best 366 Colleges.
Every two years Forbes magazine takes an in-depth look at the Best Business Schools in America. Their rankings are based on student surveys on return on investment. The ROI of a Business MBA is calculated at five years salary after graduation minus tuition and the forgone salary during school. The overall business schools rankings provided by Forbes is designed to measure your return on investment in the business education provided by business schools nationwide.
- Washington Monthly
In contrast to other publications, rankings and lists produced by The Washington Monthly are based on the contribution each individual University actually makes to the country, specifically research, service, and social mobility. The research criterion is based on the amount of money the school receives from the federal government in research grants and the number of PhDs awarded. The service criterion ranks the school by students that go on to serve in the Peace Corps or ROTC, and the percent of federal work-study funds that goes to community service. Social mobility factors include how well schools graduate poorer students and if the school does a good job recruiting.
- Wall Street Journal
The WSJ’s Top Business Schools list is based on rankings of corporate recruiters’ favorite M.B.A. programs. This is another different, yet a useful measure of business colleges.
- Business Week
Similar to Forbes, every two years Business Week also comes up with its ranking of the best business schools. Their college rankings look at a variety of criterion including faculty, career services (help students get jobs) and overall customer satisfaction (both student and those that hire them).
Kiplinger produces what most people would consider a sound college ranking report based on a pragmatic criterion. Kiplinger ranks their colleges based on academic quality, cost, and financial aid. Of course, tuition varies from in-state to out-of-state, so they made rankings for both scenarios.
It is the opinion of College Atlas that while attending a top-ranked college may increase near-term earning potential and job opportunities, in many instances students who attend schools, not in the top 10 could potentially receive a better education and thereby could be better equipped for the job. We do not believe that college ranking reports, as presented on this website, any other website, or major rankings organization should be construed as an absolute indication of quality of education provided by an individual college or group of colleges.