Oklahoma’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Oklahoma’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma 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.

Oklahoma’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 Oklahoma’s Colleges and Universities

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

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/24

    What is Oklahoma Christian University known for?

    Oklahoma Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Business
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Langston University

    Langston , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    18%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Langston University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Oklahoma City University

    Oklahoma City , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/25

    What is Oklahoma City University known for?

    Oklahoma City University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Law
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    University of Tulsa

    Tulsa , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    What is University of Tulsa known for?

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

    • Law
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Oral Roberts University

    Tulsa , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1114/21

    What is Oral Roberts University known for?

    Oral Roberts University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Southwestern Oklahoma State University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Northeastern State University

    Tahlequah , OK

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    998/21

    What is Northeastern State University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Law
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    12K

    What is University of Central Oklahoma known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Law
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    University of Oklahoma

    Norman , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    What is University of Oklahoma known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Education
    • Anthropology
    • Engineering
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is Oklahoma State University–Stillwater known for?

    Oklahoma State University–Stillwater’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    912/21

    What is University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma known for?

    University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Mid-America Christian University

    Oklahoma City , OK

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Mid-America Christian University known for?

    Mid-America Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Education
  13. #13

    Oklahoma Wesleyan University

    Bartlesville , OK

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    What is Oklahoma Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    What is East Central University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Southeastern Oklahoma State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

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Oklahoma’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Oklahoma

Less than half of the schools in Oklahoma are private schools. However, students who attend one these schools can expect a more intimate college experience, as each has a student population smaller than 4,000 students. The largest private school, the University of Tulsa, offers degrees in fields like education, criminal justice, and literature, with tuition fees around $41,000. The public schools tend to be more cost-friendly, with tuition ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 per year.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

The University of Oklahoma, the state’s largest public school, costs about $9,000 and serves over 24,000 students. Here, students can partake in competitive on-campus programs in fields like communications and social work, or pursue one of the 30 graduate degrees and certificates online. Oklahoma is also home to several religiously affiliated schools, like Oral Roberts University and Bacone College. Students hoping to pursue a career as a physician, physician’s assistant, or dentist may also want to consider earning their degree here as the state offers several loan forgiveness programs to those who qualify.

The state of Oklahoma is serious about its food — so serious they even declared an official state meal, which consists of fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie. Those hoping to feed both their bellies and their minds can attend one of Oklahoma’s more than 40 colleges and universities.

To learn more about earning your degree in Oklahoma, check out some of the state’s top programs.


What are Oklahoma’s Colleges & Universities?

Oklahoma’s Best Overall