Rankings Methodology – CRN Colleges Rankings

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Your past or future college experience can’t be described and reduced only to a list of statistics.

At CRN, we understand no college or university ranking system can be completely representative of a college and the value of its’ degrees.

Each student and parent may have specific criteria important to them and we understand no ranking will ever reflect everyone’s criteria to select the best college.

Our ranking data and methodology are evolving and they will keep evolving. In the coming quarters and years, we will add more criteria and data to create an ever more complete rankings methodology.

Why do we provide rankings in that case?

We create our own rankings as a base for students, parents and counselors to explore colleges and  universities’ important metrics but we also added the possibility to choose the most important criteria and create their own customized rankings.

Anyone can search and create their own personalized ranking by using the “Degree Search” tab on any ranking pages and then filter results based on their important criteria.

Where is the data for our rankings comes from?

In order to have the most complete and accurate accredited colleges and universities data set, we’re using the latest Department of Education statistic for post-secondary education (IEPDS).

Why use the Department of Education data sets?

Other than sending a voluntary survey, this is the only complete data set covering all colleges and universities in the United States. The added benefit is the data is the most accurate as it is mandatorily reported.

It is very important to note that our rankings are for undergraduate degrees only. That being said anyone can search colleges and degrees for any level: Certificates, Associates, Bachelors, Masters and PhDs.

Why not survey colleges and universities directly?

Sending surveys would enable us to gather other criteria we consider important but in order to make the results usable we would need to have a very high response rate, complete answers, and most important, accurate answers to have credible results.

The main drawback of existing college surveys is the difficulty to have reliable answers. Some may answer surveys by inflated results (to make their school look better), and in some other cases have college administrators vote for other colleges thus perpetuating what many consider an “old boys’ club”.

Do you use other external data in the rankings?

We’re using different sources for student’s college and degree ratings as we consider student feedback can be an important criterion for a majority of students and parents.

What are the criteria used to base the rankings?

– Tuition (2022-2023)

We believe the cost of colleges and universities is not necessarily always directly correlated to a degree value. Some students, for example, do not care about the latest stadium or amenities and those usually result in a college’s higher tuition.

For some other students having a big stadium and good sport teams are important factors in their college experience. In the later case, it usually translates into higher tuition.

Tuition is a very important affordability factor in our rankings and is for first time student entering college. Cost is for in-state students.

– Average Financial aid received (2022-2023)

The average amount of financial aid students receive is an important factor to decide the net affordability and monetary value of a degree, the college capacity to financially help students and a student level of debt after college.

– Admission rate (Fall 2022)

Students’ admission rate is often used as major factor to decide if students will pay the application fee but have little change to be admitted. We prefer to consider a high admission rate as easy access to a college education without necessarily diminishing the value of a very strict admission policy.

– Graduation rate

Graduating is an important factor. If it wasn’t the case then why spend all that time, energy and money to not complete your degree?

Completing and having a degree is what counts for a future career. You can always complete your degree later but it’s statistically proven the longer it takes to complete college the smaller the chances of graduating.

Graduation rate is for full time student graduating after 6 years.

– Number of students per program or degree (2022-2023)

Some students prefer smaller classes and programs; some others prefer more popular degrees. One way or another degree and class size matter.

Number of students is the number of students in a particular program completing their degree.

– Students’ ratings for the program and degree

What past and actual students think of a degree and college can be a decisive factor when choosing a college. Friends and family are often the most determining factor to choose a college after it’s cost. We provide degree and college ratings to help those who consider past students feedback important.

Ratings are from and

A note of caution about ratings: we do not believe past ratings always reflect future ratings at the college and program level.

Final note

As a conclusion, we do believe a student can get the most of a college education regardless of the cost, amount of financial aid and other factors.

After all a student is the person with the most control of his or her education experience. Everyone also naturally arrives to college with a different background, expectations and goals and this can play a major role in your college experience and success.

We do believe the most important factor is to successfully complete your degree with new knowledge you can apply in your personal life, career or your next degree.

This is what reaching higher is all about.