Office of Marketing & Communications

Methodologies & Practicies

Following is a summary of ranking methodologies and practices used by the various publications which include Southwestern University.

U.S. News & World Report

The U.S. News & World Report ranking system is based on two main concepts that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality. First, schools are categorized by their mission, which is derived from the breakdown of types of higher education institutions as refined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2010. Next, data from each college is gathered on up-to-16 indicators of academic excellence. Finally, the colleges and universities in each category are ranked against their peers, based on their composite weighted score.

Read a full description of their methodology.

Washington Monthly

Rates schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). 


Ranks colleges the way a consumer might look at them, with emphasis on factors such as teaching quality, four-year graduation rate, success after graduation, and the amount of debt with which students graduate.

Read a full description of their methodology.

Fiske Guide

The guide, created by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, takes into account many qualities when selecting its Best Buy institutions, including:

  • four- or five-star academic ratings,
  • inexpensive or moderate price category, and
  • quality of student life on campus.

The book profiles more than 300 colleges and universities in the U. S., Canada and Great Britain. Twenty-two public schools and 22 private schools were included on the publication’s Best Buy list.

The Princeton Review

Does not rank colleges overall, but publishes lists that rank schools in various areas. In the 2015 edition of The Best 379 Colleges, Southwestern is ranked#8 in the country for Best Career Services, down from a two-year #7 ranking. Southwestern’s “Green Rating” went up from 68 in 2014 to 93 in 2015. 99 is a perfect rating.

Read a full description of their methodology.


Kiplinger’s measures academic quality and affordability to determine the 100 top values in liberal arts colleges, beginning with data on nearly 600 private institutions provided by Peterson’s. The rankings measure academic quality and affordability, with the following areas determining the percentages awarded.

  • Competitiveness
  • Graduation Rates
  • Academic Support
  • Cost and Financial Aid
  • Student Indebtedness

Read a full description of their methodology.

Guide to Military Friendly Schools

Research findings are compiled and weighted according to the following categories to determine a final score:

  • Military Support on Campus: Programs and policies which provide support to enrolled military students.
  • Academic Credibility: The school’s level of academic accreditation: Regional, National, Hybrid and/or Programmatic
  • Percent of Military Students: Number of military or veteran students enrolled
  • Academic Credit for Military Service
  • Flexibility for Military Students
  • Veteran Graduation Rates
  • Student Tuition Assistance
  • Student Survey
  • Employment Rates
  • Military Spouse Policies
  • Government Approvals

Read a full description of their methodology