Georgia’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Georgia’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Georgia 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 Georgia 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.

Georgia’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 Georgia’s Colleges and Universities

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

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    905/17

    Fort Valley State University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    965/17

    Savannah State University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    815/16

    Albany State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Management Information Systems And Technology
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (Rn to Bsn)
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #10

    Mercer University

    Macon , GA

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Mercer University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • General Business
    • Human Resources
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN to BSN Completion)
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Services
    Degree Concentrations
    • Family Services
    • Gerontology Services
    • Mental Health Services
    • Social Services
    • Substance Abuse Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Leadership
    Degree Concentrations
    • Change Leadership
    • Civic Engagement and Community Leadership
    • Communication for a Global Society
    • Women and Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Digital Media Communication
    • Organizational Communication
    • Public Relations
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Informatics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Technology and Informatics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • General Business
    • Human Resources
    • Human Services
    • Information Technology & Informatics
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Services
    Degree Concentrations
    • Homeland Security & Emergency Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Humanities
    Degree Concentrations
    • Communication
    • Organizational Communication
    • Public Relations
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Informatics
    • Mental Health Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminal Justice Leadership
    • Family Services
    • Gerontology Services
    • Social Services
    • Substance Abuse Services
    • Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Valdosta State University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Arts
    Degree Concentrations
    • French (Language & Culture Track)
    • French (World Language & Cultures Track)
    • Spanish (Language & Culture Track)
    • Spanish (World Languages & Cultures Track)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Office Administration & Technology
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSEd in Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Workforce Education & Development
    • Required Credits: 126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. #13

    University of West Georgia

    Carrollton , GA

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/20

    University of West Georgia’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSNC in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #17

    Georgia Southern University

    Statesboro , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    Georgia Southern University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Arts
    Degree Concentrations
    • Modern Languages
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General
    Degree Concentrations
    • Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 29
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminal Justice - Criminology
    • Criminal Justice - Cybercrime
    • Required Credits: 124
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/20

    What is Truett McConnell University known for?

    Truett McConnell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Truett McConnell University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Business
    • Healthcare Administration
    • Marketing
    • Sports Management
    • Financial Accounting
    • Management
    • Nonprofit Management
    • Required Credits: 122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Christian Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Biblical and Theological Studies
    • Student Ministry
    • Missions
    • Women’s Studies
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • General / Independent
    • Forensic Science Biology
    • Law Enforcement
    • Pre-Law
    • Forensic Psychology
    • Forensic Science Chemistry
    • Leadership and Executive Management
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #19

    Wesleyan College

    Macon , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/19

    Wesleyan College’s Online Degrees

    BA in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Organizational Behavior
    • Strategic Management
    • Digital Marketing (DM)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Applied Psychology
    • Required Credits: 159
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    23%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    What is College of Coastal Georgia known for?

    College of Coastal Georgia’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    College of Coastal Georgia’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business Administration for Adult Learners
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Nonprofit Management And Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Georgia’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Georgia

The state of Georgia is home to 70 colleges and universities. 38 of these schools are public institutions, each offering a wide variety of traditional and online courses as well as a full range of graduate programs for both on-campus and online students.

The University of Georgia, located in the city of Athens, is the largest college in Georgia, with over 35,000 students. Those attending Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University will enter into a friendly athletics rivalry. Tuition at Georgia State costs $9,000, and at Georgia Southern, $6,000.

Both the University of Georgia and Georgia State University are among the 36 colleges in Georgia offering online degree programs.

In addition, there are numerous fully online colleges in Georgia with accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Of the 20 religiously affiliated colleges and schools in Georgia, Emory University has both the highest tuition at just over $50,000 per year, and the largest private school student population, with over 13,000 in attendance.

Georgia is also home to the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, which offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture, advertising, art history, and more.

Prospective students looking to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree can choose from an extremely broad range of in-class and online programs.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Both traditional and online students in Georgia can earn degrees in religious studies, business, social work, law, and computer science. Those looking to attend technical colleges can also choose from a handful of brick-and-mortar and online colleges that offer two-year degrees in medicine, nursing, and education.

Part of the University System of Georgia, Atlanta Metropolitan State college is the state’s most affordable college at $3,000. Students at Atlanta Metropolitan can major in fields like mathematics, criminal justice, and philosophy. Most degree programs are available through in-person or online programs.

Georgia is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the largest such water-mass in North America. This diverse landscape in The Peach State provides Georgia’s college and graduate students with a beautiful backdrop for an education. It’s also worth noting that Georgia residents who enroll in fully online programs at public universities or community colleges in Georgia will still receive in-state tuition discounts.

Georgia also offers a loan repayment-based financial aid program for qualifying graduates in the medical field through the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce. Check out the best traditional and online degree programs and top career paths this southern state has to offer.


What are Georgia’s Colleges & Universities?

Georgia’s Best Overall