College and University Rankings: Guide to Finding the Right School

colleges and universities rankings

Students need to know that the time, effort, and money they invest in education is well spent.

Enrolling in the best schools ensures that students have the best chance of seeing a strong return on this investment.

But this begs the question, “how do you find great colleges and universities?”

On this page we highlight the top-ranked institutions at every level of education and in multiple important educational categories including community colleges, undergrad universities, grad schools, boarding schools, high schools, doctorate degrees and much more. You’ll find the best learning institutions in the United States and the world in our school rankings below.

University Rankings as Faculty Resources

College rankings and university rankings are beneficial to students and faculty alike.

When faculty stay up to date on which schools stand at the top among higher education institutions, they can model their teaching practices based on what’s working best.

Additionally, faculty may want to explore academic partnerships or even future employment opportunities within their field.

And finding out which schools rank among the best colleges and universities is a great place to start those endeavors.

World University Rankings

Students on a college campus

Whether you’re looking to study abroad or you want to find the world’s greatest schools, comparing schools at the international level is a great place to start.

We use our innovative Influence­Ranking™ Engine to create one of—if not the most—helpful global university rankings on the web.

Learn about our Influence­Ranking™ Engine to see what sets our ranking methodology apart from other school rankings.

What’s the value of influence in the modern world? Learn why influence matters.

Global University Ranking

Here you can find 100 of the greatest schools in the world. These schools represent the pinnacle institutions in all of higher education.

Students who enroll in these schools will study under the world’s most prestigious and influential faculty, including experts who work at the forefront of their respective fields.

Additionally, students will carry degrees into the world that convey this same level of prestige.

Universities and College Rankings

Millions of domestic and international students apply to the country’s best colleges and universities ever year including top insitutions such as:

These schools are both tremendously competitive and expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of great colleges and universities beyond this list.

The easiest way to find great schools is to explore our list of comprehensive college and university rankings. The best rankings provide students with an objective analysis of what each school has to offer.

In these school rankings, we offer all the information you will need to make an informed decision about your future.

Universities Ranked for Undergrads

Earning a bachelor’s or undergraduate degree is a pivotal step in a student’s academic and professional development. Top universities offer a full range of degree programs that can set the course of your career.

But because job markets are increasingly saturated with professionals holding an associate or bachelor’s degree, students need to set themselves apart from the competition as best they can.

And undergraduate students who graduate from one the country’s best schools can do just that. Like it or not, employers will judge the value of your degree based on where you earned it.

By the same token, entering the job market as a graduate from a respected school will open doors to opportunities that might have otherwise have remained closed.

How to Find the Best Colleges and Universities

Happy female student with a notebook walking in a city

The search for the right college or university can be daunting.

With hundreds of choices on the table, students may experience paralysis of choice.

Because of this, narrowing your search is one of the best first steps for addressing this problem.

To narrow your search consider these questions:

  • What academic programs are you interested in?

  • Does campus life matter to you?

  • Are you interested in the liberal arts or applied sciences?

  • Are you interested in studying the humanities?

  • Will you study online or attend on-campus courses?

  • Are you interested in attending a Christian College or University?

Additionally, it’s important to explore a school’s success metrics. For instance, graduation rates are a great indicator for getting a basic understanding of student retention.

You might also want to look at the financial sustainability of the university and its different departments. This will help you understand the volume of faculty resources available to instructors.

Funding plays a huge part in the quality of education offered. Specifically, better funded schools will be able to offer better learning technology, research opportunities, and more.

But most importantly, students need to know that they are investing in a quality education. This is especially true if you’re pursuing doctoral education.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive in and get a closer look at some of your options.

Community Colleges Ranking

In community colleges rankings, you’ll find great schools that excel at offering affordable, career-focused degree programs.

Community colleges present accessible education programs, particularly for students interested in skill-based and trade vocations.

Community colleges are also great options for students who wish to earn credits that they plan to eventually transfer to a four-year degree program. In fact, many online schools offer accelerated associate degrees for students looking to get their degree in just one year. This could be a great way to jump-start your higher education before transitioning into a bachelor’s degree program.

Graduate School Ranking

Graduate school provides students with the opportunity to develop deeper expertise and authority in a specific subject area.

In graduate school, students develop the advanced skills and deep knowledge required to fill leadership roles in their field. Graduate students also have the opportunity to pursue advanced research and build towards an area of specialization. In fact, a growing number of graduate schools are offering online master’s degrees in subjects as wide ranging as occupational therapy, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking

Liberal arts colleges offer the ideal learning environment for pursuing studies in subjects like art, writing, or sociology.

Liberal arts colleges and universities provide students with a strong foundation in theory and analytical thinking.

These skills are universally valuable and sought after by employers.

Most Influential HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have had a tremendous impact on Black culture in recent decades.

These schools provide more than an education. HBCUs provide a community that’s centered around shared goals and aspirations.

Online MBA School Ranking

When it comes to graduate schools, there’s nothing more popular than the Master of Business Administration. Whether you plan to earn your degree at one of the best business schools in the U.S. or one of the top business schools in the world, earning a traditional MBA can qualify you for some of the most prestigious and best-paying leadership roles in any business sector.

The number of MBA programs now available online is also growing at a rapid pace. For students who are already working in their field, the online MBA can be a great way to balance workplace and educational responsibilities. You can even get started on an online MBA with no GRE test required.

And for busy working adults, many online business schools offer accelerated options, including online MBAs that can be completed in as little as one year.

You can also save money by seeking an online MBA close to home. Even online students enjoy in-state discounts when attending an online college.

Get started with a look at the online MBA schools in all 50 states.

The Best Online MBA By Discipline

One reason for the MBA’s popularity is its incredible versatility. There are numerous concentrations within the business administration discipline. You can narrow the focus of your master’s degree program by choosing an area of specialization that matches your interests and career goals.

And because so many MBA candidates are already working directly in their field, many of these MBA concentrations are available through various convenient, flexible, and accessible online formats.

Online Analytics MBAs

Information sciences and business operations are more interlinked than ever. This means that there are great opportunities for innovation and leadership in technical areas of business such as analytics, logistics, and business intelligence. There are numerous highly focused MBA concentrations that can help you advance a career in one of these high growth areas.

Online Leadership MBAs

The master of business administration is generally focused on providing practical leadership skills. But graduate students interested in narrowing the focus of their leadership role do have a number of specializations. Some leadership concentrations focus on specific industries such as healthcare while others emphasize leadership in specific types of organizations such as startups.

Online MBA Specializations

Some MBA degrees are highly specific to a particular career or field. For instance, those in professions such as accounting or human resources may be required to earn an advanced degree in their field of practice to advance to a certain role. In other cases, this specialization can enhance your qualifications in competitive fields like marketing and real estate.

See our complete guide to MBAs for more information.

Online Colleges Ranking

College campus

While online education certainly edged into the mainstream in recent years, some colleges and universities remain well ahead of the curve. The best on-campus degree programs won’t always be the best online degree programs. In fact, some of the top providers of online education specialize in unique degree options that are only possible through distance learning such as self-paced degree options.

You can also learn more by checking out our guide for getting your online bachelor’s degree.

Research Universities Ranking

Students seeking research-driven degrees will want to explore college and university rankings to find a program with research concentrations in their areas of interest.

Great research universities offer robust academic networks, research facilities, and technology designed to empower student research. These universities wield huge research budgets and enable researchers to pursue their dreams.

Small Colleges Ranking

The best large universities probably will not be the right fit for a student who prefers a more intimate learning experience.

Students who wish to have more face to face time with instructors in smaller classrooms will likely want to explore the best small colleges rankings.

Christian and Catholic Colleges and Universities

Students seeking a faith-based education or a degree program provided within a community of faith have numerous options both online and on campus. In fact, many Christian colleges and universities have taken a leading role in the online education space.

This means it is possible to pursue an online degree at a top Christian college or university in an extremely wide range of subjects at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degree levels.

And students seeking a university experience with Catholic affiliation have a wide range of top Catholic colleges and universities to choose from.

PhD and Doctorate Rankings

Doctorate-level degrees are usually terminal degrees. Doctoral degrees and PhDs can lead to careers in research, post-secondary education, policy consultation and more. Those who earn a doctoral degree or PhD will also qualify for some of the top leadership roles in their field.

A growing number of accredited doctorate degree programs are now available online.

In fact, many of these online PhD programs can be accessed without a GRE exam.

Online learning is also making it possible to earn a PhD at an accelerated pace so that you can advance in your career without losing momentum.

Leading Online PhDs and Doctorates

Not only are many leading universities now offering doctoral degree programs online, but many schools excel in specific subject areas.

Health-Related Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Some doctoral degrees are popular because they provide clear and direct pathways toward career advancement. For instance, in areas such as healthcare, social work, and mental health care, earning an advanced degree can qualify you to provide services in a clinical setting.

Technical Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Earning a doctorate in a technical subject can qualify you to lead research in a field like computer science, information technology, business analytics, or cybersecurity. Likewise, these online doctoral degrees can qualify you to provide consultation in these areas to private organizations, publicly-traded companies, and government agencies.

Highly Specialized Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Some online doctoral programs are highly prestigious, but limited in availability. Certain areas of specialization like Economics and Criminal Justice can lead to highly focused programs and career paths. There may be only a few accredited online doctoral degrees to choose from in these areas, but completing one of these programs can lead to a role as a top educator or expert in your field.

Research-Based Online Doctoral Degrees and PhDs

Many doctoral degree programs are research intensive—especially for students who enter into PhD programs. Such doctoral degree programs will typically help candidates refine and use practical research skills. Candidates in these disciplines will usually be required to complete a dissertation based on original research. Graduates will be prepared to lead research teams in the following areas:

Find Great Colleges and Universities in Each State

Sometimes the location of a school is as important as its other characteristics.

Especially for on-campus students, finding a school that’s conveniently located will help to ease the stresses of relocating.

Future-minded students may also wish to choose their school based on its proximity to thriving job markets.

Students may simply wish to explore each state’s most affordable colleges.

Online Colleges Ranked by State

Online students will want to explore each state’s options because of the differences between in-state versus out-of-state tuition costs.

While private universities offer the same tuition rate to all students, the best public universities reserve their best rate for in-state students. The good news is that even online students attending a public school in their state can receive the lower in-state tuition rate.

See More School Rankings

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