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Schools in the USA

How Christian College and University are Ranked in the US

In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges, with the majority of these rankings focused on bachelor's and master's degree programs. There are two main types of rankings: rankings of institutions and of programs in particular fields.

While there is no specific ranking of Christian colleges and universities, they are regularly found in the annual ranking of US universities published by US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, The Washington Monthly, BusinessWeek, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China, and more. These and other rankings are designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate institutions--regardless of institution type or affiliation--according to quality and value. There are, however, specific rankings for liberal arts colleges, so be sure to look at those to see which Christian schools are mentioned and how they do.

The other type of ranking--of programs--looks at and compares the individual programs of various colleges and universities. Given that Christian colleges and universities offer a wide range of programs, these are also relevant to your search for rankings. The most commonly ranked programs are business and engineering (both of which are offered at many Christian colleges and universities), and so you may want to consult additional specialty rankings in publications such as Forbes, Financial Times and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. But there are many more programs (such as design and nursing) offered at Christian colleges and universities for which you can also find specialty rankings in the publications that rank institutions.

Another source of information for Christian college and university program ranking is professional associations: these organizations sometimes publish online reports of student surveys on various schools and programs, which provide still more school or program "rankings." These program-specific associations (for example the College Art Association) as well as institute-type organizations (such as Best Christian Workplaces Institute) often offer awards and honors for teaching excellence, and looking at who they have honored can also be used to supplement your 'ranking' of schools. Less "official" rankings can also be found in student-based resources like StudentsReview, and you may want to scan journals and websites specifically about Christian education in America (such as Christian Education Journal) to see which schools are mentioned and what is said about them. This kind of news may not be ranking per se, but the information is yours to use and interpret.

Each of these sources, however, uses its own particular set of criteria for ranking schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report (which looks at undergrad programs in all fields), the author specifically refuses to disclose his methodology. How then should all these rankings be interpreted?

First, the ranking reports often come with detailed data to support conclusions, and while data collection may be criticized, the editors of these reports usually make an effort to ensure that statistics are comparable. So the reports can be used by you to compare Christian universities and colleges on the basis of the data provided.

Second, the statistics that come from the rankings can also suggest topics that need to be studied in more detail. For instance, if a school has a high acceptance rate, high tuition fees but a low graduation rate, you may want to ask why.

All US college rankings have one other thing in common: they are a list of institutions and schools. Scanning the list might suggest a school that you had not considered or perhaps even heard of. Used this way, the rankings can help expand your list of Christian colleges and universities that can then be researched in more detail.

However, you should never judge based on rankings alone. Christian university and college rankings are important, but there may be other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Schools that are less prominent may have a program that might suit your needs better than any nationally ranked schools. Lesser known regional universities and colleges may also be a wise choice if you wish to remain close to home during your studies. Often times, these schools may have the strongest relationships with local companies and employers. Once you have accumulated this information, you could be able to create your own Christian university and college rankings.

 



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