Our Ranking Methodology

Prospective college students researching academic programs should consider our ranked lists of schools. To create our rankings, we’ve developed a methodology by compiling relevant indicators from national databases about postsecondary schools. Students can learn more about the formula in the section below.

Key factors include the school’s reputation, affordability, and academic quality. Rankings may include other factors, depending on the target audience. Psychology.org prioritizes objective data. Therefore, rankings remain free of any outside editorial influence.

Psychology.org rankings include a mixture of schools but are not exhaustive. For instance, institutions that do not provide enough information do not make our rankings. Students should regard these ranked lists as a helpful resource when researching college programs and perform their own research, as well.

About Our Data

Psychology.org collects data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This federal entity, as a part of the Institute of Education Sciences, gathers, analyzes, and publishes statistical data on education across the U.S. and other countries. The Psychology.org vetting process also includes a quality assurance team that assesses datasets.

We pulled the most recent data in December 2020 for our 2021 rankings. Psychology.org reserves the right to exclude any schools that lack significant data from the rankings to ensure accurate calculations.

How We Calculate Our Rankings

Students often use online resources to research potential colleges and universities. Learning about our methodology can help students understand if the rankings reflect their needs in a school or program. Psychology.org focuses on four categories when ranking schools: accessibility, overall program costs, reputation, and quality of academics.

Psychology.org also considers subfactors, which hold different values, to provide more specific calculations. Potential subfactors include the percentage of undergraduate students awarded federal student loans. Students can learn more about subfactors in the section below.


  • Subfactors for Academic Quality

    • Full-time retention rate
    • Graduation rate
    • Student-to-faculty ratio

  • Subfactors for Affordability

    • Average net price for students awarded grant or scholarship aid
    • Federal student aid default loan rate
    • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal student loans*
    • Average amount of federal student loans awarded to undergraduate students*
    • Percent of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid*
    • The average amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded**
    • Median debt for graduates (six years after entry)**

  • Subfactors for School Reputation

    • Percent admitted total
    • Admissions yield total
    • Mean earnings of graduates six years after enrolling**

  • Subfactors for Accessibility

    • Percentage of students enrolled in online programs at a specific level***
    • Percentage of students enrolled online overall***
    • Percentage of degrees offered at a specific level

*Used for undergraduate-level rankings only
**Used for graduate-level rankings only
***Used for online rankings only

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