Ohio’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Ohio’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Ohio 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 Ohio 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.

Ohio’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 Ohio’s Colleges and Universities

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

  1. #1

    Hiram College

    Hiram , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1006/21

    Hiram College’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting and Financial Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #3

    Marietta College

    Marietta , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

  3. #5

    Central State University

    Wilberforce , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    810/15

  4. #6

    Tiffin University

    Tiffin , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Tiffin University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #7

    Muskingum University

    New Concord , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/20

    Muskingum University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    Degree Concentrations
    • Public
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Child and Family Studies
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Community Health and Wellness
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Early Childhood Education
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Management
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Science
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Resource Management
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Intervention Specialist
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Marketing
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical Laboratory Studies
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Accelerated
    • Required Credits: 71
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Occupational Science
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. #10

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

  7. Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/22

  8. #17

    Capital University

    Columbus , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

  9. #18

    Otterbein University

    Westerville , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1152/23

  10. Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1146/24

  11. #21

    Xavier University

    Cincinnati , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/25

    Xavier University’s Online Degrees

    BLA in Liberal Arts
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #23

    University of Akron

    Akron , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    University of Akron’s Online Degrees

    BS in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 31
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminology And Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Management And Homeland Security
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Allied Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Public Relations
    • Strategic and Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Supervision
    • Required Credits: 62
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Allied Health Care Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor’s in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Public Relations
    • Strategic and Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Supervision
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #25

    Youngstown State University

    Youngstown , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/21

    Youngstown State University’s Online Degrees

    BSAS in Allied Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSAS in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSAS in Public Health
    Degree Concentrations
    • Environmental Health and Safety
    • Health Education / Health Promotion
    • Required Credits: 127
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Ohio’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Ohio

Ohio offers over 120 colleges and universities for students to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The largest school in the state, Ohio State University, a public institution, serves almost 55,000 students. This university has five regional campuses, which have graduated alumni like writer Harlan Ellison and Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger. The majority of Ohio’s schools, however, are private.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Tuition at these schools varies greatly, with costs as low as $7,000 at God’s Bible School and College, and as high as $56,000 at Kenyon University. The state is also home to nearly 40 higher education institutes with religious affiliations, offering plenty of options for students aiming to blend their faith with higher education. Although tuition costs in Ohio are higher than the national average, Ohio provides several loan forgiveness programs to those pursuing careers as public defenders and prosecutors, dentists, nurses, primary care physicians, and mental health providers. Many of these programs require individuals to work in shortage areas around the state for a certain time period in order to qualify.

If you’re someone with a wide variety of interests, Ohio might just be the place for you. In The Buckeye State, individuals can visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, take a trip through Amish Country, attend a professional sporting event, and hike waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It seems this state has something for everyone, including those pursuing a higher education degree.

Learn more about the numerous excellent degree paths and career prospects available in Ohio.


What are Ohio’s Colleges & Universities?

Ohio’s Best Overall