Mississippi’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Mississippi’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Mississippi 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 Mississippi 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.

Mississippi’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 Mississippi’s Colleges and Universities

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

  1. #1

    Tougaloo College

    Tougaloo , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    865/18

    What is Tougaloo College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Rust College

    Holly Springs , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    29%

    Graduation

    20%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Rust College known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Millsaps College

    Jackson , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/23

    What is Millsaps College known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Delta State University

    Cleveland , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

    What is Delta State University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    What is Mississippi University for Women known for?

    Mississippi University for Women’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Alcorn State University

    Alcorn State , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    885/20

    What is Alcorn State University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    Jackson State University

    Jackson , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    981/19

    What is Jackson State University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    13K

    What is University of Southern Mississippi known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Mississippi State University

    Mississippi State , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/26

    What is Mississippi State University known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    University of Mississippi

    University , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/25

    What is University of Mississippi known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Law
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    William Carey University

    Hattiesburg , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/24

    What is William Carey University known for?

    William Carey University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    Belhaven University

    Jackson , MS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Belhaven University known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Mississippi Valley State University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Blue Mountain College

    Blue Mountain , MS

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/20

    What is Blue Mountain College known for?

    Blue Mountain College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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Mississippi’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Mississippi

The majority of the learning institutes in Mississippi are public schools, with the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, being the largest. This university, located in Oxford, boasts alumni like William Faulkner, John Grisham, and James Meredith. Tuition at Ole Miss runs about $9,000, just below the national average. The eight private colleges, all of which have religious affiliations, range in tuition costs from $10,000 at Rust College to $40,000 at Millsaps College.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Students who attend these schools have the option to pursue degrees in fields like nursing, business, dentistry, Christian ministry, education, and literature. Additionally, all of these private schools are considered small schools, serving under 5,000 students. Mississippi also offers up to $12,000 of undergraduate loan forgiveness, over the course of four years, for teachers who work in designated shortage areas or who teach in critical shortage subjects, like special education or mathematics.

From Mississippi mud pie to fried chicken, Mississippi brings a whole new meaning to the term comfort food. The Magnolia State is easy on the eyes too. With nearly endless forests spilling over with hickory, pine, and oak trees, the intricate river system, and the Gulf Island National Seashore, Mississippi is a true destination for lovers of outdoor adventure. And students who plan on earning their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in Mississippi have 31 colleges and universities to choose from.

Explore some of the top schools and career paths Mississippi has to offer.


What are Mississippi’s Colleges & Universities?

Mississippi’s Best Overall