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How the US News and World Report National University rankings work

31 Jan, 2023
How the US News and World Report National University rankings work

For some, the ranking of a school helps to determine which school to apply to. While this should not be the sole factor you consider when choosing a college, a school’s ranking can you give you a good idea about the quality of a particular school.

US News and World Report is the most popular college ranking system used in the United States. It is an objective guide, which provides a comparison for academic quality of schools. If relying on rankings, it is helpful to know how these rankings are determined, and to understand what criteria is used and how much weight each is given.

There are 280 schools in the 'National Universities' category (173 public, 100 private and 7 for-profit). National Universities are ranked separately from National Liberal Arts Colleges and Regional rankings. The biggest ranking indicators, are academic reputation, graduation retention rates, faculty resources, and admissions data. These measures make up 77.5% of a school’s ranking for the National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, and Regional Universities.

Academic Reputation: The academic peer assessment survey is given to top academics – (presidents, provosts and deans of admissions) – who can judge the school’s academic, for example, faculty dedication to teaching.

Graduation Retention Rates: This measure has 2 components. The 6-year graduation rate is measured, as well as the percentage of students who return to campus each year.

Faculty Resources: This measure is made up of things like class size, faculty salary, number of professors with the highest degree in their field, student-faculty-ratio, and proportion of full-time staff.

Admissions Data: This includes the acceptance rate of a school.

Other factors that play into the ranking but make a smaller impact are average alumni giving rate, graduation performance, and financial resources.

Go to our Top 100 progression page to see the list of universities our students have transferred to or had offers of a place.

Go to US News and World report website