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2017 Best Colleges Ranking Methodology

The 2017 Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

FactorDescriptionSourceWeight
Academics GradeNiche Academics grade, which incorporates factors such as acceptance rate, quality of professors, as well as student and alumni surveys regarding academics at the school.Niche35.0%
Value GradeNiche Value grade, which incorporates statistics such as average loan amount, alumni earnings and student surveys regarding value.Niche25.0%
Professors GradeNiche Professors grade, which incorporates factors such as number of awards won by faculty, student-faculty ratio, as well as student surveys regarding professor quality.Niche10.0%
Student Life GradeNiche Student Life grade, which incorporates statistics such as safety, diversity, athletics and student surveys regarding student life.Niche7.5%
Student Surveys on Overall ExperienceNiche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the overall experience of students and alumni at each school.Self-reported by Niche users7.5%
Campus GradeNiche Campus Quality grade, which incorporates factors such as quality of campus food and housing, as well as student surveys regarding facilities on campus.Niche5.0%
Diversity GradeNiche 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.Niche5.0%
Local Area GradeNiche Local Area grade, which incorporates factors such as median rent, local crime rates, access to amenities, as well as student surveys regarding the local area around campus.Niche2.5%
Safety GradeSafety grade, which incorporates factors such as campus crime rate, local crime rate, as well as student surveys regarding health and safety services on campus.Niche2.5%

This ranking assesses 1,647 4-year colleges and universities. The same methodology is used to produce the Overall Niche 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.

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