Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS

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TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

Any website on the Internet that ranks anything inevitably needs to answer this question:

How do you create your ranking lists?

Considering that our rankings may help you determine a course for the rest of your life, it’s a valid question. We take it very seriously because we value your trust.

Our process is two-fold.

1. Data Analysis & Research

TheBestSchools.org uses a proprietary multicriteria optimization algorithm that analyzes key data indicators in the information each school supplies to the federal government (such as IPEDS and NCES). Depending on the focus of the specific ranking, appropriate criteria are weighted. These considerations are shown below grouped by weight, with the most important first:

The above represent common criteria we take into account, but each ranking will determine which criteria we consider and their weighting. In the case of unusual rankings, we will account for additional and/or unique criteria specific to that ranking. In every case, we note the ranking-specific methodology for each list we publish, so you know which criteria we considered.

2. Professional Experience

Because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, and/or other sources we deem valuable to an accurate ranking.


In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please check the web page for the ranking in question for information on the criteria employed. For any remaining questions, please feel free to connect with our staff through our Contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.


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