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College and University Rankings

INTRODUCTIONCollege and University Rankings GIF

From sports to education, Americans are captivated by rankings. Everyone wants their favorite team to be the best, and every parent wants their child to attend the best college or university. While sports teams can compete on the playing field to determine who is better on a given day, institutions of higher education have no commonly agreed upon measures to allow for the comparison of teaching and research programs. The overwhelming variety in size and purpose of institutions makes the prospect of comparing colleges a daunting one for students, parents, and the colleges themselves.

For many years, various bodies have undertaken statistical and reputational rankings of colleges and attempted to provide information to prospective students. Increasingly, the importance and validity of college rankings is a hotly debated issue. Many universities, including highly ranked ones, are beginning to question both the data and methods used by some ranking services. Of special concern are the aspects of the rankings which deal with the difficult to measure concept of institutional reputation. At this site, you will find links to many ranking services, along with cautionary notes and a discussion of the ongoing controversy over rankings.

The listing of items on our site’s pages in no way constitutes an endorsement of a ranking service by the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library or by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The purpose of our site is only to draw together and provide context to various ranking services. We hope the information found here will improve your knowledge about rankings in general and help you better use these services. Toward that end, we highly encourage you to peruse our Caution and Controversy page. Our College Rankings Bibliography provides numerous articles on the topic. In addition, the UIUC Office of Public Affairs has prepared a publication which lists the national rankings of the various UIUC departments.

If you have questions about rankings, or would like to recommend a resource for inclusion, please contact the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.