Our Ranking Methodology

Last updated: July 13, 2021

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 college and program. You can learn about programs, find colleges and connect with schools for free. Through quality data and research on over 7,000 universities and colleges, we help you make an informed decision about your education.

Why do we rank universities and colleges?

Our university and college ranking algorithm helps you further differentiate one university or college from another. In other words, we determine which schools and programs are best.

Where does the data come from?

Data is our passion—we analyze millions of pieces of data and deliver insight to you in a fun, interactive way. Our college ranking algorithm uses the latest and most robust U.S. government data sets, specifically the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). We will continuously revise the metrics and data sets we use to refine our ranking algorithm.

How does Universities.com come up with our college and 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, with 0 being the worst positioned in the data set and 1 being the best. For instance, the school with the lowest 6-year graduation rate would receive a 0, the highest a 1, and all other schools a value in between
  3. We assign a weight to each of these metrics based on their relative importance to overall 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

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

MetricWeight (total = 100%)
Acceptance rate
Standardized testing
Diversity of student body
Retention and Graduation46%
First-year retention rate
Graduation rate
Non-white student graduation rate
Pell Grant graduation rate
Instructors and Faculty21%
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%
Percentage of undergraduates receiving aid
Average aid package size
Average net price of attendance

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 in every major and school criteria.

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.