School Rankings Methodology updates's school ranking lists are created using a proprietary ranking system that includes data from the U.S. Department of Education and school details. Read on to learn more about's ranking methodology.

Who is

Since 2004, has provided our users with free college and career resources. Over 40 million visitors every month trust and use our articles to research schools, degrees, and careers.

At, our mission is to make education accessible to all students. We know each student has unique needs when it comes to choosing a college, so we created our school rankings to help students make college decisions that are the right fit.

Our Methodology

Most rankings on other websites talk about top-tier schools that might be too pricey, selective, or elite for many students. Our rankings focus on quality school programs that provide a high-value education, while still being accessible and affordable. That's why things like price, value, and attainability are major factors for schools in all our lists.'s school lists only include accredited, non-profit public and private schools. Our objective approach to judging schools includes use of a unique ranking system, which combines current data points from the U.S. Department of Education with school-specific details.

When creating each ranking list, we select the ranking factors that are most applicable to the topic of the list. For example, our Top 50 Colleges for Racial and Cultural Diversity ranking was created with additional data points related to the ethnic backgrounds of the student body and the availability of on-campus cultural organizations, among others.

Though data can differ between lists, all rankings will look at the following criteria:


  • Tuition cost
  • Financial aid
  • Availability of alternative tuition plans


  • Admittance rates
  • Educational support and resources
  • Non-traditional credit programs, including alternative, dual, AP, and transfer credits

Quality & Value

  • Retention rates
  • Graduation rates
  • Student-faculty ratio
  • Career resources and job placement
  • Student loan default rates's Student-First Approach understands that no two students are alike. We create our rankings with students in mind, and sincerely hope that our rankings help students make the best college decisions for their personal goals.

By Laura Yang
January 2020 updates school rankings

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