Nebraska’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Nebraska’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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.

Nebraska’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 Nebraska’s Colleges and Universities

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

  1. #1

    Chadron State College

    Chadron , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Chadron State College known for?

    Chadron State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/25

    What is Nebraska Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1079/23

    What is University of Nebraska at Kearney known for?

    University of Nebraska at Kearney’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • History
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Creighton University

    Omaha , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/26

    What is Creighton University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Anthropology
    • Business
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    13K

    What is University of Nebraska Omaha known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Economics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/25

    What is University of Nebraska–Lincoln known for?

    University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Peru State College

    Peru , NE

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Peru State College known for?

    Peru State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1204/23

    What is Concordia University Nebraska known for?

    Concordia University Nebraska’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Union College, Nebraska

    Lincoln , NE

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/21

    What is Union College, Nebraska known for?

    Union College, Nebraska’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Hastings College

    Hastings , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/21

    What is Hastings College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Wayne State College

    Wayne , NE

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Wayne State College known for?

    Wayne State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Midland University

    Fremont , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    What is Midland University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Doane University

    Crete , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Doane University known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Bellevue University

    Bellevue , NE
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    23%

    Student body

    9K

    What is Bellevue University known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    College of Saint Mary

    Omaha , NE

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    1K

    What is College of Saint Mary known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    York College

    York , NE

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/19

    What is York College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

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Nebraska’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Nebraska

Students can choose from 29 higher learning institutions, including community colleges, technical institutes, religious colleges, and public universities. Of the 15 public campuses, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln is the largest, with over 22,000 students. Coming in under the national average, the university’s tuition rate is $9,000, and students can earn their degree in fields such as law, mathematics, communication, and sociology.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

The most affordable schools in the state are its six community colleges with tuition ranging from $3,000 to $4,000. Nebraska also has 12 religiously affiliated institutions, including those with Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Lutheran influences. At $40,000 in tuition, Creighton University is both the largest and most expensive of these schools, and it boasts a 95% employment rate after graduation.

As one of the largest corn producers in the country, it’s no wonder Nebraska’s nickname is The Cornhusker State. The state is also home to an unusual monument — Carhenge. Replicating England’s famous Stonehenge, this structure is made out of vintage American automobiles that have been painted gray and lodged into the ground. With the Great Plains, over 20,000 square miles of sand dunes, and a portion of the Badlands, Nebraska offers a unique setting for students looking to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Mental health, dental, and other health care professionals working in shortage areas can apply for loan repayment awards through the Nebraska Loan Repayment Program. Doctors and dentists may qualify for up to $200,000.

Come check out the top programs and earn your degree in Nebraska.


What are Nebraska’s Colleges & Universities?

Nebraska’s Best Overall