2017 Colleges with the Best Academics Methodology

The 2017 Colleges with the Best Academics ranking is based on admissions selectivity, professor quality, and academic resources using data from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews from students and alumni. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

Factor Description Source Weight
Acceptance Rate Percent of applicants accepted. U.S. Dept. of Education 15.0%
Professors Grade Niche Professors grade, which incorporates factors such as number of awards won by faculty, student-faculty ratio, as well as student surveys regarding professor quality. Niche 15.0%
SAT/ACT 25th Percentile Composite SAT/ACT (normalized to the same scale) of the 25th percentile of enrolled students. U.S. Dept. of Education 10.0%
SAT/ACT 75th Percentile Composite SAT/ACT (normalized to the same scale) of the 75th percentile of enrolled students. U.S. Dept. of Education 10.0%
Student Surveys on Academics Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the quality of academics at each school. Self-reported by Niche users 10.0%
Admissions Yield Percent of applicants admitted to the college who enrolled. U.S. Dept. of Education 7.5%
Diversity Grade Niche Diversity grade, which incorporates factors such as ethnic composition of the student body, proportion of international students and out-of-state students, as well as student surveys regarding diversity on campus. Niche 7.5%
Graduation Rate (6-year) Percent of undergraduate students who graduate within six years. U.S. Dept. of Education 7.5%
Research Expenditures per Student Total expenditures dedicated to research per full-time undergraduate student. U.S. Dept. of Education 7.5%
Full-Time Retention Rate Percent of full-time, first-time students enrolled the prior year that re-enroll the next year. U.S. Dept. of Education 5.0%
Freshman National Merit Scholars Percent of full-time freshmen who are National Merit/Achievement Scholars. The Center for Measuring University Performance 2.5%
Student-Faculty Ratio Total full-time undergraduate students per full-time undergraduate faculty. U.S. Dept. of Education 2.5%

This ranking assesses 1,403 4-year colleges and universities. The same methodology is used to produce the Niche Academics Grade for each ranked school as well as additional 4-year colleges. Statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, usually from 2014–2016, as self-reported by the colleges.

For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here.