Kansas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Kansas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Kansas 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 Kansas 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.

Kansas’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 Kansas’s Colleges and Universities

Kansas's Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship
Download Badge

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 Kansas’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.
Back to Top

Kansas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    Friends University

    Wichita , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/22

    What is Friends University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Baker University

    Baldwin City , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    What is Baker University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Washburn University

    Topeka , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Washburn University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Benedictine College

    Atchison , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/24

    What is Benedictine College known for?

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

    • Physics
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Emporia State University

    Emporia , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1002/22

    What is Emporia State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Pittsburg State University

    Pittsburg , KS

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Pittsburg State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Wichita State University

    Wichita , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    What is Wichita State University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    10K

    What is Fort Hays State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Kansas State University

    Manhattan , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    18K

    What is Kansas State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Sterling College

    Sterling , KS

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/20

    What is Sterling College known for?

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

    • Communications
    • Literature
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Hesston College

    Hesston , KS

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hesston College known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    Kansas Wesleyan University

    Salina , KS

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1041/21

    What is Kansas Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Ottawa University

    Ottawa , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    975/19

    What is Ottawa University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • History
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

Back to Top

Kansas’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Back to Top

Colleges and Universities in Kansas

Beyond the 23 community and technical colleges, Kansas also has nine public universities, the largest being the University of Kansas (KU) with over 28,000 students. The school’s main campus is located in Lawrence, Kansas, but there are four other locations where students can attend KU classes: Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina. Kansas is also home to 22 private higher education institutions, with tuition ranging from $7,000 to $31,000.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

In addition, students can choose from one of 18 religiously affiliated schools, including Newman University, Wichita — a Catholic liberal arts university serving the state’s largest private school student population at just over 2,000. Just under the national tuition average at $9,230, Kansas is also an affordable state in which to earn your degree. The state awards associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in common fields of study, like economics, nursing, business, and education. Specialized degrees include aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas and agribusiness from Kansas State University. Those in the medical and health fields can check out loan forgiveness programs, such as the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, which awards up to $50,000, tax free, for those who serve two years at an approved site.

Arguably, it was the 1939 cinema classic, The Wizard of Oz, that put Kansas on the map. But The Sunflower State is also known for its mouth-watering barbecue, open plains, and vast sunflower fields. Prospective students can also choose from 50 colleges and universities across this Midwestern state.

See what Kansas has to offer by checking out the top programs and career paths available.


What are Kansas’s Colleges & Universities?

Kansas’s Best Overall