Schools in the USA

How Religious and Theological Studies Schools are Ranked in the US

In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges. National and international organizations such as US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Forbes, The Washington Monthly and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China, regularly publish general rankings designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate schools and programs according to quality and value. When it comes to religious and theological studies, rankings tend to focus on graduate rather than undergraduate programs. However, these can still be relevant to you: if the school offering the master's program also offers an undergrad program, then these rankings may be of interest for helping you choose where to pursue your bachelor's. Also, religious studies programs can sometimes be found in humanities or liberal arts departments, so be sure ...Read More[+]

In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges. National and international organizations such as US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Forbes, The Washington Monthly and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China, regularly publish general rankings designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate schools and programs according to quality and value. When it comes to religious and theological studies, rankings tend to focus on graduate rather than undergraduate programs. However, these can still be relevant to you: if the school offering the master's program also offers an undergrad program, then these rankings may be of interest for helping you choose where to pursue your bachelor's. Also, religious studies programs can sometimes be found in humanities or liberal arts departments, so be sure to look at those rankings too. Often, there is a separate section for liberal arts colleges, for instance Kiplinger lists the top 50 liberal arts colleges in its 100 Best Values in Private Colleges, and the National Research Council includes arts and humanities as one of their areas of ranking.

There are also less "official" student-based rankings like StudentsReview, and some professional associations have reports from surveys about various schools and programs, which provide still more "rankings." Such associations (such as the American Academy of Religion) may also offer awards and honors for teaching excellence, and looking at who they have honored can also be used to supplement your 'ranking' of schools.

Each of these sources, however, has its own particular set of criteria for evaluating schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report (which ranks undergraduate programs), 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 can be subjective (in the case of student surveys in particular), 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 institutions and schools 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 program has a low faculty to student ratio but also low retention numbers, you may want to ask why.

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

However, you should never judge based on rankings alone. Religious and theological studies school 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 religious and theological studies school rankings.

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How Religious and Theological Studies Schools are Ranked in the US Schools

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