Best Colleges 2021: Explore the Full College Ranking List
Examine the full list of nearly 800 U.S. colleges and universities and look at the metrics behind the rankings. Create personalized rankings based on the factors that matter most to you, and use tools to sort and filter the data.
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|2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||5||3||153||120||$18,971|
|7||California Institute of Technology||8||1||>400||231||$26,361|
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Rankings for 2020 (first published Sept. 4, 2019) Methodology change: Average level of student debt at graduation replaced the analysis of student-loan default rates.
Rankings for 2019 (first published Sept. 5, 2018) Methodology change: Value-added analysis of salaries and default rates takes into account regions as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis instead of states.
Rankings for 2018 (first published Sept, 26, 2017) Methodology change: Value-added measure of default rates was added to Outcomes.
Rankings for 2017 (first published Sept. 27, 2016; revised June 16, 2017)
The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings are based on 15 key indicators that assess colleges in four areas: Outcomes, Resources, Engagement and Environment. Outcomes accounts for 40% of the weighting and measures things like the salary graduates earn and the debt burden they accrue. Resources, with a 30% weighting, is mainly a proxy for the spending schools put into instruction and student services. Engagement, drawn mostly from a student survey and with a 20% weight, examines views on things like teaching and interactions with faculty and other students. Environment, at 10%, assesses the diversity of the university community.
When using the “Customize rankings” function, use the “Reset all fields” button to return to the default weightings for Outcomes (40%), Resources (30%), Engagement (20%) and Environment (10%).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of many college campuses, the student survey had to be canceled for this year. We determined that it was unreasonable to expect institutions to invest time and effort surveying their students during a crisis, and were additionally concerned that the data would have been biased by students’ experience of a sudden move to online-only teaching, making it a less than reliable indicator of general teaching success. We hope to be able to return to a normal survey collection for our 2022 ranking, but for this ranking the data for the three student-engagement metrics hasn’t been updated and we are using the scores obtained by institutions last year.
Our student inclusion metric previously used data from the U.S. Education Department’s College Scorecard (CSC) on first-generation student enrollment, and from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) on Pell Grant enrollment. The CSC data are no longer being published, so this year we only used the Pell Grant data from IPEDS. We will review this change for next year’s ranking to ensure we are still able to measure economic diversity in a meaningful way.
Finally, following a March 2019 executive order on accountability at colleges and universities, College Scorecard is now focusing on collecting outcomes data at the field-of-study level, and has stopped publishing overall salary values 10 years after matriculation. This data was used in our value-added model, and we aren’t able to replace it with the new values published. As a result, this year we are reusing last year’s scores from the value-added metric. We will be reviewing our methodology for next year to find a suitable replacement for this measure for future rankings.
Colleges and universities are designated as liberal-arts schools based on an analysis of data provided by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Schools are included on the list if they are: 1) classified as Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts & Sciences Focus, or 2) if they are classified as Master’s Colleges and Universities and meet the following criteria: The majority of undergraduate degrees they award are in the arts and sciences and they award more undergraduate degrees than advanced (Master and Doctoral) degrees. The analysis is based on the Carnegie update for 2018, which is the most recent release and which is based on degrees conferred in 2016-17.
Enrollment is based on the number of full-time-equivalent undergraduate students as published in IPEDS for the 2017-18 academic year.
Academic spending per student data are adjusted to account for regional price differences using regional price parity data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The sum of individual scores for Outcomes, Resources, Engagement and Environment for a school may not equal the school’s total score.
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