Indiana’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Indiana’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Indiana 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 Indiana 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.

Indiana’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 Indiana’s Colleges and Universities

Indiana'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 Indiana’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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Indiana’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    Goshen College

    Goshen , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1108/25

    What is Goshen College known for?

    Goshen College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #3

    Wabash College

    Crawfordsville , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/26

    What is Wabash College known for?

    Wabash College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #4

    Hanover College

    Hanover , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    What is Hanover College known for?

    Hanover College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #5

    DePauw University

    Greencastle , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/26

    What is DePauw University known for?

    DePauw University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    Saint Mary's College

    Notre Dame , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/25

    What is Saint Mary's College known for?

    Saint Mary's College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Indiana University East

    Richmond , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    What is Indiana University East known for?

    Indiana University East’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    University of Evansville

    Evansville , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1189/26

    What is University of Evansville known for?

    University of Evansville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Taylor University

    Upland , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    What is Taylor University known for?

    Taylor University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Valparaiso University

    Valparaiso , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/25

    What is Valparaiso University known for?

    Valparaiso University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • History
    • Medical
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Indiana Wesleyan University

    Marion , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    What is Indiana Wesleyan University known for?

    Indiana Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Trine University

    Angola , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    What is Trine University known for?

    Trine University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    Indiana State University

    Terre Haute , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    10K

    What is Indiana State University known for?

    Indiana State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Butler University

    Indianapolis , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

    What is Butler University known for?

    Butler University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Vincennes University

    Vincennes , IN

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    8K

    What is Vincennes University known for?

    Vincennes University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #16

    University of Notre Dame

    Notre Dame , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1475/33

    What is University of Notre Dame known for?

    University of Notre Dame’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #17

    Ball State University

    Muncie , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    20K

    What is Ball State University known for?

    Ball State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    What is Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis known for?

    Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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Indiana’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Indiana

Among Indiana’s schools are some well-known colleges and universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and Butler University. While tuition and student population vary greatly among these schools, each boasts a high graduation rate. The state’s largest public university, Indiana University Bloomington, also notes a high graduation rate for its roughly 40,000 students and offers tuition just above the national average at $11,000.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Additionally, students hoping to attend a school with a religious affiliation have nearly 30 options to choose from. Students at these schools can study areas like engineering, business, philosophy, religious studies, and law. Indiana offers loan forgiveness programs for health care workers who work in areas with labor shortages as well as for lawyers providing public legal aid. Additionally, graduates of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law pursuing public interest law can apply for a special grant program that will help cover the cost of preparing and sitting for the bar exam.

With town names like Popcorn and Santa Claus, it is clear Indiana is no stranger to a good time. Along with these unique towns, Indiana also hosts the Indianapolis 500, a long-distance auto race; boasts a thriving art scene; and has been home to iconic celebrities, including Larry Bird, James Dean, and David Letterman. Students wanting to experience all Indiana has to offer while studying have the option of attending one of Indiana’s more than 50 higher education institutes.

Explore Indiana’s more than 50 colleges and universities to find a program and future career path that’s right for you.


What are Indiana’s Colleges & Universities?

Indiana’s Best Overall