Idaho’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Idaho’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Idaho if you reward schools for making the best use of their limited resources? Academic Stewardship asks how effectively schools manage their financial and human resources to gain the influence that makes them academically excellent. Schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty achieve their full potential.

Colleges and universities in Idaho deserve to be recognized when they do more with less. It’s impressive when a large wealthy school can spend money lavishly on expensive buildings and programs. But it’s even more impressive when a small school with limited means is able to train and inspire students that the larger wealthier schools tend to ignore.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities reported in late 2021 that almost 75 percent of higher-education professionals at US colleges and universities felt financial constraints prevented their schools from effectively attracting students. Distracted by the size and amenities of larger schools, prospective students tended especially to be overawed by the big research universities.

Idaho’s smaller colleges, especially its liberal arts colleges, need effective ways of communicating their value to a world that celebrates “bigger is better” and “you need the best.” Unfortunately, most college ranking companies, such as U.S. News & World Report, define “best” in a way that devalues schools with smaller budgets and fewer students even when these schools do remarkable work in advancing their students’ education. By and large, college rankings penalize schools that serve underserved populations.

Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, who for years now has criticized conventional college rankings for misrepresenting what’s good and valuable in education, we decided to construct a new ranking metric that highlights those schools that do more with less. That metric—called the Academic Stewardship metric—takes away both the size and the wealth advantage of schools, and focuses instead on how well schools use the resources available to them to advance the education of their students.

How We Measure the Academic Stewardship of Idaho’s Colleges and Universities

Idaho's Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship
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As a metric, Academic Stewardship is defined by a precise mathematical formula, which can be found in our Academic Stewardship white paper. Measuring the Academic Stewardship of Idaho’s colleges requires measuring two forms of stewardship: 1) Stewardship of financial resources (using the money they have responsibility without waste) and 2) Stewardship of human resources (doing their best to help students, faculty, and administration to flourish). Together, these two types of stewardship form what we call  Academic Stewardship. If you want to learn more about the factors involved in Academic Stewardship, click the more button below.

  1. Stewardship of financial resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of financial resources, we factored in its undergraduate size, budget, endowments and reserves, as well as tuition and fees. All these data are available from the National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. In addition, we factored in a school’s financial responsibility as gauged by the Federal Student Aid Office at the US Department of Education through its financial responsibility composite scores.
  2. Stewardship of human resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of human resources, we used our InfluenceRanking engine to track the influence of the school’s faculty and alumni but also to control for size of the undergraduate student body. We’ve found that measuring a school’s influence based on the contributions of faculty and alumni make in their fields of study but then also controlling for size of the undergraduate population is the single best indicator of academic excellence. We call this Concentrated Influence. Schools that rank highly in Concentrated Influence are schools that, given their available human resources, invest heavily in their students and faculty, and the results are demonstrable.
    • We measure the influence of colleges and universities based on the publications and citations of the schools’ faculty and alumni who are teaching in and working in areas related to their degrees. To do this, we take publicly available databases, such as Semantic Scholar, Crossref, and Wikipedia and use these to measure the influence of academics in their disciplines. Having measured the influence of persons, we then identify the schools that they’re affiliated with, adding up the influence scores of the faculty and alumni to measure the influence of the schools and their disciplinary programs. Finally, we control these influence scores by size of undergraduate student body so that schools do not score high in influence simply because of a size advantage. We lay out these methodological considerations on our methodology page.
  3. Academic Stewardship: Having measured a school’s stewardship of financial and human resources in the two previous points, we now divide the second measure by the first to define the Academic Stewardship metric. This metric spotlights smaller schools, with fewer financial resources and people, that invest wisely and do proportionately better in building influence than large wealthy schools. Many of these smaller, less wealthy schools are incentivized to make better use of their resources but would never get recognized in conventional school rankings, which directly or indirectly put a premium on the wealth of schools.

Academic Stewardship as so defined is connected to keeping tuition and other costs down, but it should not be confused with affordability or frugality. The schools that this metric ranks as exemplary academic stewards tend to be all over the map when it comes to tuition and other costs. At issue is the influence of schools given the financial and human resources they have on hand. If a school is going to charge more for tuition, then that needs to be reflected in the school having proportionately greater influence.

Why Academic Stewardship Matters to Students and Their Families

The benefits of attending a school with strong academic stewardship include:

  • A clear reason for why students are at the school in the first place. Without the distraction of amenities and luxuries, these schools are at once unpretentious but also passionately committed to their educational mission. The schools in this ranking are financially efficient and academically rigorous. By avoiding frills, these schools take the most direct path to accomplishing their mission of educating students.
  • Valuing character over prestige and self-indulgence. A school that’s a good steward of its resources doesn’t instill shame in its students over what they are missing (such as elite cuisine) but rather pride in what they have and making the most of it. These schools exhibit a culture of good stewardship, which tends to build good character in the students that attend these schools.
  • Avoiding the spoiled-student syndrome. It’s easy to think that offering students endless options and opportunities will enrich their time at school in every way. But spoiling people—whether in business, sports, or academics—has the opposite effect, causing people to take their advantages for granted and in the end achieving less than they might otherwise, a point well-documented in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. Schools exhibiting academic stewardship avoid this pitfall.
  • The best schools vs. the schools that help students to be their best. Students at schools demonstrating outstanding academic stewardship aren’t so much concerned about being at the “best” school, whatever that may mean, as about being at a school that helps them to be their best. These schools pay attention to their students, hoping that any glory goes to them rather than to the school. Small schools, and especially liberal arts colleges, help themselves by communicating this advantage to prospective students.
  • Emphasizing development over talent and achievement. Schools like Harvard and Stanford have their pick of academic talent, and their students have a long record of achievement even before they apply to such elite schools. But if a school doesn’t have the resources of a Harvard or Stanford, how does it build a great team of students? In that case, it must focus on student development. Colleges exemplifying academic stewardship emphasize student growth and development, ensuring that the schools are doing everything in their power to help students reach their full potential and thereby become their best selves.
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Idaho’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    University of Idaho

    Moscow , ID
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/23

    University of Idaho’s Online Degrees

    BS in Organizational Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BGS in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    Idaho State University

    Pocatello , ID
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    9K

    Idaho State University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Finance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Workplace Training And Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Fire Services Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Homeland Security And Emergency Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Secondary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Education
    • Business Technology
    • Family And Consumer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Secondary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Education
    • Business Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Anthropology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Family Consumer Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Sociology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Boise State University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Management
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Cyber Operations And Resilience
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Multidisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Public Relations
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Public Health
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Respiratory Care
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Applied Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/19

    Lewis–Clark State College’s Online Degrees

    BA in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business And Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business And Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sport Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Sport Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Justice Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Justice Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BTC in Early Childhood Development
    • Required Credits: 10
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Elementary Education
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 83
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in General Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Education
    • Humanities
    • Natural Sciences And Mathematics
    • Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Anthropology
    • History-Secondary Education
    • Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSW in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Computed Tomography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computed Tomography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing Lpn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Radiographic Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Northwest Nazarene University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 150
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Christian Ministry
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    46K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    Brigham Young University–Idaho’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Applied Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Applied Health Informatics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/25

    What is New Saint Andrews College known for?

    New Saint Andrews College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

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Idaho’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Idaho

While there are only a few major colleges in Idaho, prospective students do have some excellent public options. In fact, just over half of the 13 colleges and universities in Idaho are public school options.

Boise State University, Idaho’s largest public university, serves roughly 17,000 students through both on-campus and online degree programs. Students at Boise State University can pursue both traditional and online degrees in fields like communications, earth sciences, and engineering.

Other major public universities in Idaho include Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College. This is noteworthy because Idaho residents who attend public online colleges in Idaho will still have access to in-state tuition discounts. Out of state students will pay more.

Idaho is also home to five private schools, including the state’s largest school, Brigham Young University Idaho, which has a student population of nearly 49,000 students.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

While students at BYU school can expect to pay around $4,000 in tuition, well below the national average, tuition for Idaho’s other private colleges costs between $13,000 and $30,000 per year.

The majority of Idaho’s colleges and universities can be considered small schools, serving student populations of 4,000 or less. However, the state’s largest schools offer the most affordable tuition fees, with both traditional and online students having access to tuition for as little as $4,000 per year.

Students who pursue their degrees in Idaho can study fields like chemistry, law, and anthropology at the University of Idaho; or religious studies, psychology, and literature at New Saint Andrews College. Additionally, Idaho offers a loan forgiveness-based financial program of up to $100,000 to physicians who work in the state’s rural areas.

French fries, mashed potatoes, tater tots, and even potato-inspired ice cream - Idaho is, as per its reputation, a potato lover’s dream. But it’s not all spuds in this state. Along with countless hiking trails, rivers perfect for rafting trips, and 72 types of gemstones, this state offers both on-campus and online degree programs with competitive tuition fees and excellent professors.

For more information, explore some of Idaho’s top programs and future career possibilities.


What are Idaho’s Colleges & Universities?

Idaho’s Best Overall