U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Ranking

The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Ranking is an annual set of rankings of American colleges and universities published by U.S. News & World Report beginning in 1983. They are the most widely quoted of their kind in the United States.[1]

2016 Best Colleges cover

The rankings are split into four categories: National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities, and Regional Colleges, with the latter two categories further split into North, South, Midwest, and West. The rankings are based upon data that U.S. News & World Report collects from an annual survey sent to each school, as well as opinion surveys of faculty members and administrators from other schools. The publication's methodology was created by Robert Morse, who continues to oversee its application as chief data strategist.[2]

The rankings are popular with the general public (for their 2014 release,[needs update] usnews.com garnered 2.6 million unique visitors and 18.9 million page views in one day[3]), and influence high school seniors' application patterns (a 2011 study found that a one-rank improvement leads to a 0.9% increase in number of applicants[4]). However, they have been widely denounced by many higher education experts. Detractors argue that they ignore individual fit by comparing institutions with widely diverging missions on the same scale,[5] imply a false precision by deriving an ordinal ranking from questionable data,[6] encourage gamesmanship by institutions looking to improve their rank,[7] and contribute to the admissions frenzy by unduly highlighting prestige.[8]

In addition to the rankings, U.S. News & World Report also publishes college guides in book form,[9] and ranks American graduate schools and academic programs in a number of specific disciplines, including business, law, engineering, nursing, and medicine.[10] In October 2014, the magazine began publishing a Best Global Universities ranking that focuses more on research and includes non-American schools.[11]