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Rankings Bibliography

College and University Rankings Bibliography

The following books, articles, and web sources are intended to provide background information to help you understand some of the pitfalls of college rankings and to use ranking services in an appropriate manner. This is not intended to be a comprehensive, retrospective bibliography. Older items may be dropped off as new ones are added. You should be able to obtain most of the items below at your local library. Additional sources of information about rankings may be found on our Caution & Controversy page. If you would like to suggest items for inclusion on this page, please send them to Nancy O’Brien, Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Items Containing Rankings | Items About Rankings

Items Containing Rankings

  • Consumers Digest Names 100 Colleges/Universities Top Values. PR-inside. May 1, 2007.The article discusses the June 2007 issue of Consumers Digest Magazine which ranks the top 100 college and university values in the United States. PR-inside highlights the Consumers Digest‘s Top 5 Best Values in Public Colleges, Top 5 Best Values in Private Colleges and Universities and Top 5 Best Values in Private Liberal Arts Schools.
  • Gourman, Jack. Gourman Report: Graduate Programs (8th Edition). NY: Princeton Review Publishing, 1997.Ranks top graduate and professional programs in over 100 academic areas. Separate sections cover schools of law, medicine, and health-related professions. Also included are lists of “approved” engineering and business management schools, a rating of U.S. research libraries and overall rankings of U.S. and international graduate schools. The methodology of this popular ranking source has been questioned widely. This title is no longer published.
  • Gourman, Jack. Gourman Report: Undergraduate Programs (10th Edition). NY: Princeton Review Publishing, 1998.Ranks undergraduate programs in over 100 individual disciplines, as well as the top universities in the broader realm of pre-legal and pre-medical education. Includes a section on university administrative areas (e.g., libraries, alumni associations) and international universities. This title is no longer published.
  • Hattendorf-Westney, Lynn C. Educational Rankings Annual. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1998-2006.This edited compilation provides information and statistics taken from numerous sources. Highly selective, the editor has carefully chosen sources that are broadly recognized as authoritative. The criteria used for these rankings address myriad perspectives from which one might want information to judge an institution’s educational quality reputation, admissions selectivity, alumni achievement, test scores, tuition rates, faculty publications and salaries, as well as other topics regarding the the potential quality of education. Includes source information, the number of entries in the ranking, and brief criteria used for rankings. Over 3,600 institutions are ranked and listed. An extensive index includes subject terms as well as institutions being ranked. A reputable source of rankings providing a wealth of information. As of 2006, this title is no longer published.
  • Hix, Simon. “A Global Ranking of Political Science Departments.Political Studies Review. v2 n3 (September 2004): p. 293-313.This article proposes an alternative method of ranking of political science departments by focusing on “the quantity and impact of their publications in the 63 main political science journals in a given five-year period.” Note: This form of rankings only ranks publications published in political science journals. The author’s method produces a new series of rankings for political science departments worldwide, but focuses solely on English-language journals.
  • Lombardi, John V., Craig, Diane D., and Capaldi, Elizabeth D. The Top American Research UniversitiesAn annual publication from the Center for Measuring University Performance. It offers their assessment of the best public universities based on total research and development; federally sponsored research and development; national academy members; Guggenheim and Fulbright awards; Ph.D.’s awarded; postdoctoral students; and National Merit and National Achievement Scholars.
  • National Research Council (U.S.) Committee for the Study of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States. Research-doctorate programs in the United States : continuity and change. Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, 1995.A very comprehensive study of the research doctorate programs in selected fields. An index to the fields of study covered appears in the back. Statistical information on the program is given, as well as a relative ranking of the schools in the field for the programs included. Education is not covered although many social science fields are.
  • Parmar, Neil. The Best Colleges for Making Money. SmartMoney. December 16, 2008.In this article, SmartMoney reports on their attempt to quantify the long-term value of a college education, with the goal to spotlight the relationship between tuition costs and graduates’ earning power. Their results suggest that public universities may be a better deal than private universities.
  • Ranking America’s Leading Universities on Their Success in Integrating African Americans. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.This site provides an overall ranking of the nation’s leading universities on their comparative success in bringing African Americans into the ranks of higher education. Highly quantitative, the rankings are based on thirteen categories including the total black student enrollment (graduate and undergraduate), the five-year progress of the university in black student enrollment, the black student graduation rate, and the university-wide percentage of blacks among the tenured faculty. The article provides the reader with a careful explanation of the purpose and methodology of the rankings. It also contains a brief history of African Americans in higher education both as students and faculty. The article offers results and commentary on the performance for each of the 26 universities and discusses the limitations of the rankings.
  • Ross, Rachel. “Disability-Friendly Colleges.” New Mobility, September 1998.
    For persons with disabilities, choosing a college means more than simply evaluating an institution’s academic offerings. This article helps students assess the disability-friendliness of public institutions, evaluating them on such criteria as accessible classrooms, transportation, living accommodations, personal assistance services, and adaptive sports.  Although these rankings are outdated, the criteria used for evaluating these institutions is useful in judging the current level of accessibility of colleges and universities.  The site provides an introduction to campus accessibility issues, charts of available services, outlines of the institutions including links to their home pages, tables describing the physical accessibility of each campus, and more.
  • Times Higher Education Supplement. World University RankingsThe first edition of a planned annual feature. The centerpiece is a table ranking the top 200 universities throughout the world. In a deliberate attempt to keep things simple, scores were calculated using 5 scales: peer review (based on a survey of faculty throughout the world; accounting for 50% of the total score), research impact (measuring citations per faculty; 20% of total score), faculty/student ratio (20% of total score), percentage of international faculty (5%), and percentage of international students (5%). A number of short articles in this 15 page feature further elaborate on these rankings, offering discussions of individual scales and regions. (Note: This feature is available online, but requires a Times Higher Education Supplement subscription.)
  • US News & World Report. America’s best graduate schools. Washington, DC : U.S. News & World Report, 1998- (Annual Publication).This annual, despite its pitfalls, provides a good jumping-off point to the world of graduate rankings. Rankings have been categorized by subject area–Business, Law, Medicine & Health, Education, Engineering, Library Science, and Ph.D.s. Included is a directory of over 1000 graduate programs by subject and state, methodology of their rankings and an index. (See articles below and our own Caution & Controversy page for more on critical analysis of US News & World Report and rankings in general.)
  • US News & World Report. America’s best colleges . Washington, DC : U.S. News & World Report, 1998- (Annual Publication)
    Updated annually, this site contains extensive information about colleges and universities in the United States, including selected undergraduate programs. The list is divided both by region and by category (National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Schools and Top Public Schools). Factors such as diversity, specialty schools/programs (ranked and non-ranked), and state-by-state results are ranked separately. A searchable index also provides access to the site’s contents. Be sure to check our Caution and Controversy page to learn more about the ranking methods utilized by U.S. News & World Report. Beginning in 2002, much of the information formerly provided free became available for purchase only from this site.



Items About Rankings

  • “Annual College Rankings Find Ready Market.” The CQ Researcher. v6 n8 (1996): p.180.
  • Assessing the Shanghai Rankings“. Research Trends. Issue 4 (March 2008).A brief assessment of the “Academic Ranking of World Universities,” a university ranking initiative of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. The Shanghai Rankings were originally developed to compare Chinese universities with others worldwide, with particular reference to academic and research performance. Questions such as how the rankings are perceived by the academic community and how its evaluation criteria differs from the Times Higher Education Supplement’s World University Rankings are explored.
  • Avery, Christopher, Glickman, Mark E., Hoxby, Caroline M. and Metrick, Andrew. “A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities” (December 2005). NBER Working Paper No. W10803.The authors of this study present a representative model of a new college ranking system based on student preferences, posited to be an improvement over current ranking systems. The authors surveyed “3,240 highly meritorious students” about their choices of which of the schools they were admitted to they decided to attend. The researchers attempted to determine what factors students and their parents value in order to produce an example of a new aggregated assessment which would allow schools to more effectively market themselves and recruit new students.
  • Bastedo, Michael N. and Bowman, Nicholas A.  “U.S. News & World Report College Rankings: Modeling Institutional Effects on Organizational Reputation.”  American Journal of Education, v116 n2 (February 2010): p. 163-183.
    This study uses U.S. News & world Report’s College Rankings to determine any potential distortions generated by previous ranking results.  It explores the impact of these rankings on expert opinions, and the consequent impact on future rankings, through peer assessment.  The influence of the report’s overall rankings and tier ratings are quantitatively evaluated for their impact on developing future opinions.
  • Baughman, James C. and Robert N. Goldman.  “College Rankings and Faculty Publications: Are They Related?”  Change.  v31 n2 (March/April 1999): p.44-51.
  • Blumenstyk, Goldie. “The Ever-Growing World of College Rankings.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. (February 27, 2015).
    This article gives an overview of the college-rankings scene, particularly in light of newer ranking systems and publications from Forbes, Money, Washington Monthly, and PayScale. The rankings that have recently emerged in the wake of U.S. News & World Report rankings describe themselves as innovators in the rankings field, purporting to do a better job in assessing the real impact of an institution. Many colleges and universities participate in the rankings process, because rankings do have influence in the decision-making processes of prospective students. While the author does not offer judgment on whether “(w)e’re entering rankings overload or Rankings 2.0,” it is made clear that rankings are part of the fabric of college and university admissions and the alumni network.     
  • Bollag, Burton. “Group Endorses Principles for Ranking Universities.The Chronicle of Higher Education. (June 9, 2006).This article discusses the Berlin Principles on Ranking of Higher Education Institutions, 16 principles of good practice which are meant to serve as guidelines for groups that produce rankings. These principles were created by an international group of educators, higher-education experts, and publishers.
  • Bradburn, Norman. “Outranked and Underrated“. Legal Affairs. Nov/Dec 2005.This article discusses some of the flaws in law school rating systems, which the author sees as distorted by school rankings, and suggests appropriate benchmarks that can be used for more rigorous and accurate ratings systems that are reasonably objective, methodologically sound, and illuminating in their results.
  • Carey, Kevin. “College Rankings Reformed: The Case for a New Order in Higher Education“. Education Sector Reports. September, 2006.According to the author, traditional college rankings often exclude measures that would be most helpful to students, instead focusing on the fame, wealth, and exclusivity of ranked universities. New research and advances in technology in the last few years have lead to new metric and data sources to measure how well universities are preparing undergraduate students. This report explains what the new measures can show, how those measures can be combined into new college rankings, and why the new rankings would benefit both students and colleges.
  • Carey, Kevin. “College Rankings Will Never Die”. The Chronicle Review’s Brainstorm. March 19, 2009.This article describes a discussion between the author and an official from a North African country about higher education institutions in the United States. The author describes the problems that this official was encountering when comparing U.S. schools, the reasons why people turn to rankings for assistance, and how rankings can help people make informed decisions about schools.
  • Carter, Terry.”Rankled by the Rankings.” ABA Journal. v84 (March 1998): p.46-53.“Some deans are fed up with law school ratings by U.S. News & World Report and have launched an anti-ranking campaign.  Others pay lip service to those efforts while figuring out how to boost their own positions on the list. ”  (from the magazine)
  • Chang, Gordon C. and J.R. Osborn. “Spectacular Colleges and Spectacular Rankings: The U.S. News Rankings of American “Best” Colleges.” Journal of Consumer Culture.  v5 n3 (2005): p. 338-364.Using Guy Debord’s “theory of the spectacle” to examine college rankings, the authors identify three processes: abstraction, valuation and legitimation, that place the U.S. News Rankings in the context of spectacle.
  • Clarke, Marguerite. “Weighing Things Up: A Closer Look at the U.S. News and World Report‘s Ranking Formulas.” College and University Journal. v79 n3 (Winter 2004): p. 3-9.This analysis examines two criticisms commonly leveled against the U.S. News ranking methodology: that the weight-and-sum method arbitrarily weighs certain factors higher than others, and that the “false precision” of overall scores creates the impression of fine distinctions among schools where none may actually exist. It finds empirical support for both of these criticisms through statistical analysis, and concludes with suggestions for “improving the interpretability and usefulness of the rankings,” including reevaluating the weighting system and doing away with the single overall score.
  • Cohen, David.  “Magazines Rankings of Asian Universities are Popular With Readers, Not Academics.”  The Chronicle of Higher Education, 45(36) (May 14,1999): p.A51.This article addresses the the college ranking conundrum in an Asian setting by examining the unique and fascinating case of Asiaweek‘s annual survey of Asia’s best universities.  The extra variables of economic diversity, social history, and national pride all add spice to the normally difficult process of ranking schools.   The author addresses these issues in a wide ranging article which provides an excellent introduction for the uninitiated.
  • Crissey, Michael. “Changes in Annual College Guides Fail to Quell Criticisms on Their Validity.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 44 (2) (September 5, 1997): p.A67.
  • Dill, David D. and Maarja Soo. “Academic quality, league tables, and public policy: A cross-national analysis of university rankings systems.” Higher Education , v49 n4 (June 2005): p. 495-533.Examines and compares national university rankings systems or league tables from Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, to address the role of public policies concerning the rankings. This article raises the questions: is there an international agreement on the measurement of academic quality across these ranking systems? What impact do the ranking systems have on the university and academic behavior in their countries? What is the role of public policy in the creation and distribution of rankings systems?
  • Diver, Colin and Kevin Carey. “Rise and Shine? The ups and downs of the rankings game”. Currents. v33 n6 (July/Aug 2007). p. 47-52.This article contains two perspectives on the college rankings debate, written by Colin Diver, president of Reed College, and Kevin Carey, a researcher at Education Sector. Diver discusses reasons why the U.S. News rankings are disliked and what colleges should be prepared for if they choose not to participate. Carey discusses the options of accepting these rankings, faults and all, or creating a newer, better, rankings regime.
  • Dometrius, Nelson C., M.V. Hood III, Kurt A. Shirkey, and Quentin Kidd. “Bugs in the NRC’s Doctoral Program Evaluation Data: From Mites to Hissing Cockroaches.” PS: Political Science and Politics. v31 n4 (December 1998): p.829-835.This article examines the data used in the often cited National Research Council (NRC) publication, Research Doctorate Programs in the United States, Continuity and Change.  The authors identify problems with the NRC study’s data quality and interpretation.
  • Druzdzel, Marek J. and Clark Glymour. “What Do College Ranking Data Tell Us About Student Retention: Causal Discovery in Action“.  In Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Intelligent Information Systems (WIS-95), Augustow, Poland, June 5-9, 1995, p.138-147.The above link will take you to an abstract of the paper and will allow you to download an Adobe PDF version of the work.
  • Ehrenberg, Ronald G.  “Reaching for the Brass Ring: The U.S. News and World Report Rankings and Report.” The Review of Higher Education, 26 (2) (Winter 2003): p. 145-162.The United States higher education system is known throughout the world for its competitiveness, and rankings add to this environment. Institutions competing for top rankings may forgo cooperation with other institutions, which can be detrimental to both the student and the institution as well as higher education, in general. This article examines the role of the U.S. News and World Report rankings and its methodology in this competitive atmosphere and also what changes could be made to encourage cooperation.
  • Espeland, Wendy N. and Michael Sauder.  “Rankings and Reactivity: How Public Measures Recreate Social Worlds”.  American Journal of Sociology, v113 n1 (July 2007): p. 1-40.This article uses the example of law school rankings to demonstrate how public measures such as rankings change expectations and permeate institutions, suggesting why it is important for scholars to investigate the impact of these measures more systematically.
  • Farrell, Elizabeth F. and Martin Van Der Werf. Playing the Rankings Game. Chronicle of Higher Education. v53 n38 (May 25, 2007).“Many college officials are asking hard questions about the methodology and effect of the ‘U.S. News’ rankings. One complaint: The survey overwhelmingly favors private institutions.”
  • Gater, Denise S. A Review of Measures Used in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” Gainesville, FL: Lombardi Program on Measuring University Performance, University of Florida, 2002.This article critically examines the methodology of the U.S. News and World Report rankings. With special attention to the ranking’s assessment of research universities, the report analyzes each of the sixteen measures of academic excellence used in the 2002 rankings and suggests alternative measures for improvement.
  • Goldstein H. and DJ Spiegelhalter.  “League Tables and Their Limitations: Statistical Issues in Comparisons of Institutional Performance.”  Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A: Statistics in Society. 159(Part 3)(1996): p.385-409.For readers who understand and enjoy statistics, this article offers insight into the statistical principles involved in comparing institutions along various lines.  While focusing mainly on medical institutions, the article does offer general observations on inter-institutional comparison and counsels caution in interpreting apparent differences.
  • Graham, Hugh Davis and Nancy Diamond.  “Academic Departments and the Ratings Game.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 45 (41) (June 18, 1999): p.B6.This opinion piece by the authors of the book listed directly below offers interesting insights into the topic of reputational rankings.  The authors conclude with the following paragraph.  “There is something unseemly and petty in the spectacle of academics squabbling over whose department or program is higher in the pecking order. The purpose of the next N.R.C. study should not be to fuel yet another round of warfare over professorial status. Instead, it should be to provide useful information — to political and business leaders, foundations and professional associations, scholars and administrators, and students — about which programs are the most productive in creating new knowledge.”
  • Graham, Hugh Davis and Nancy Diamond (eds.) The Rise of American Research Universities. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997.This book explores the post-World War II rise to prominence of the American research university, presenting historical analysis, as well as providing comparisons and rankings of public and private universities. Indicators used as evaluation criteria are: “Federal R&D obligations, journal publications in all fields, journal publications in top-rated science and top-rated social science journals, and arts and humanities awards” (p. 236). The book contains tables illustrating rankings, extensive notes, and a bibliography.
  • Hattendorf, Lynn C. “College and University Rankings: An Annotated Bibliography of Analysis, Criticism, and Evaluation.” RQ, volumes 25-29 (1986-1990): Parts 1-5.“…[I]dentified and evaluated rankings sources in the area of higher education.” (Hattendorf, Lynn C. (1986) Educational Rankings).
  • Haworth, Jennifer Grant and Clifton F. Conrad.  Emblems of Quality in Higher Education: Developing and Sustaining High-Quality Programs.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.This book is an excellent source for those interested in the topic of higher education quality.  Of special note for individuals interested in rankings is Chapter One, “Perspectives on Academic Program Quality.”  Here the authors identify five areas of emphasis which are often used in evaluating program quality or ranking colleges and universities; faculty, resources, student quality and effort, curriculum requirements, and a multidimensional or multilevel view.
  • Hazelkorn, Ellen. “Questions Abound as the College-Rankings Race Goes Global.”  The Chronicle of Higher Education. (March 13, 2011).
    Brief article discusses the influence of global rankings on setting policy and strategy at higher education institutions in order to move higher in the rankings.
  • Hodges, Shannon. “Authentic Values and Ersatz Standards: Making Sense of College Rankings.” Academe, v88 n6 (November-December 2002): p. 33-35.This article examines college rankings in the light of social responsibility. It looks at the divide between public universities and community colleges and the “glamour schools”, elite, wealthy institutions, such as those in the Ivy League. The author questions the role of rankings in maintaining the divide and in the corporatization of higher education.
  • Hoeritz, Kimberly J., Allan B. Corderman, Max Reed, and Edward B. Fiske. “Publisher’s Perspectives: Guidebooks.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.73-90.“College guidebook publishers have come under great scrutiny as the number of such publications has increased. The burden of survey response is felt by the institutions that are called upon to fulfill various requests for information, often involving a number of formats. In this chapter, four major publishers of college guidebooks respond to the issues raised in the previous chapters.”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • Hoover, Eric. Liberal-Arts College Group Plans to Help Develop Alternative to Commercial Rankings. Chronicle of Higher Education. (June 20, 2007).This article discusses the reasons behind 80 liberal arts colleges electing no longer to take part in commercial rankings such as the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.
  • Hoover, Eric. The Rankings, Rejiggered. Chronicle of Higher Education. (August 17, 2010).Discusses a change in the ranking methodology of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges to include the views of high-school counselors in its measure of “academic reputation.”
  • Hossler, Don and Erin M. Foley. “Reducing the Noise in the College Choice Process: The Use of College Guidebooks and Ratings.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.21-30.“The limited research available and the observations and experiences of admissions officers suggest that guidebooks and ratings have a small to negligible impact on most students considering colleges and universities.”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • Institute for Higher Education Policy.  “College and University Ranking Systems: Global Perspectives and American Challenges”  April 2007.“While college and university rankings are growing in their frequency and popularity, greater understanding about how these ranking systems function is needed to ensure accountability and greater transparency.” (from abstract)
  • Institute for Higher Education Policy. “Impact of College Rankings on Institutional Decision Making: Four Country Case Studies” May 2009.“This issue brief seeks to understand the role that rankings play in institutional decision making and how institutions in various countries use rankings in ways that might benefit higher education in the United States.” (from executive summary)
  • Ioannidis, John P.A., Nikolaos A. Patsopoulos, Fotini K. Kavvoura, Athina Tatsioni, Evangelos Evangelou, Ioanna Kouri, Despina G. Contopoulos-Ioannidis, and George Liberopoulos. “International Ranking Systems for Universities and Institutions: a Critical Appraisal.” BMC Medicine 2007, v. 5 article 30.This article is a review of the two most publicly visible international ranking systems, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ and the Times Higher Education Supplement ‘World University Rankings’.
  • IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence.  IREG Ranking Audit.  
    The International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) developed a set of guidelines, called the Berlin Principles on Ranking of Higher Education Institutions, for people to evaluate the quality and criteria in school rankings.
  • Jacobs, David.  “Ascription or Productivity? The Determinants of Departmental Success in the NRC Quality Ratings.”  Social Science Research. v28n2 (June 1999): p.228-239.This article examines the effect of ascribed factors on the ranking of sociology departments in the National Research Council’s ranking of research doctorate programs. The author concludes that factors which should be irrelevant such as whether a school has the word “State” in its name do have an effect when sociologists assess departments’ reputations.
  • Jaschik, Scott. “Should U.S. News Make Presidents Rich?” Inside Higher Ed. March 19, 2007.This article discusses the controversy of Arizona State University instituting an incentive bonus (equaling $60,000) for the university’s president if their university improves in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
  • Jennings, Matthew V. “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” Currents, v30 n9 (October 2004): 22-27.While many university administrators and faculty members have serious problems with U.S. News-type lists, it is clear that rankings are here to stay. Jennings provides a concise summary of the controversies surrounding rankings, and then examines strategies institutions have used to deal with them. He discusses the challenges faced by university and college communicators over whether to publicize their rankings status or not, and those faced by administrators over whether to make decisions with the specific goal of improving their rankings. Both of these dilemmas reflect the tension between resisting and acknowledging the very real influence of rankings.
  • Kirk, Stuart A. and Corcoran, Kevin. “School Rankings: Mindless Narcissism or Do They Tell Us Something?” Journal of Social Work Education. v31 n3 (1995): p.408-414.Abstract (from ERIC): A 1994 U.S. News and World Report ranking examines professional schools of social work and compares the findings with those of 8 other attempts to rank social work schools in the last 20 years. Results indicate that the assessment measures used were primarily faculty products (for example, articles published), and that the reputational studies involve academics’ opinions of their colleagues. (Author/MSE)
  • Labi, Aisha.  Rankled by RankingsThe Chronicle of Higher Education.  January 31, 2010.
    Because higher education rankings have a visible effect on students’ choices and universities’ activities, rankings systems are undergoing more scrutiny and competition for the best quality results.  As the European Union develops its own international rankings system, this article examines biases, tensions, and motivations behind the researchers and ranking systems.
  • The Learning Alliance for Higher Education. “Best in Show: Rethinking the Rankings Game.” Change. v35 n5 (September/October 2003): p. 55-58.Through a somewhat complicated statistical analysis comparing U.S. News and World Report‘s rankings to a formula developed by University of Pennsylvania researchers to measure a college or university’s position in the higher education market, this article argues that the U.S. News rankings capture market forces (demand, financial resources, price, etc.) more so than the overall “quality” of an institution. A key additional finding is that, in place of the complicated U.S. News formula, just two factors can be used to create a close approximation of the rankings: six-year graduation rate and peer review score.
  • Machung, Anne. “Playing the Rankings Game.” Change. v30 n4 (July/August 1998): p.12-16.“Paradoxically, while higher education leaders are quick to criticize the annual rankings of American colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report, their institutions aggressively use the rankings to promote themselves in the race for prestige and visibility.” (from Change)
  • Mallette, Bruce I. ” Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Steve Martin: What Do They Have in Common?” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.31-44.“An examination of one of the most popular publications that rate and rank collegiate undergraduate education reveals several methodological concerns. The challenge for consumers and researchers include understanding what shortcomings exist in these rankings, what impact these shortcomings have on the rankings, and what methodological changes might improve the evaluations”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • Manion, Andrew P. Fixing a Fatal Flaw in ‘U.S. News’ Rankings. Chronicle of Higher Education. v53 n38 (May 25, 2007).The author highlights a U.S. News and World Report Rankings flaw where institutions ranked as “top tier” close shortly after the rankings are published.
  • Martens, Jack. “For the Ease of Masters.” Barron’s. v82 n34 (Aug 26, 2002): p. 31.Many undergraduates take standardized tests like the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) to advance to the next stage of their educational careers. Martens argues that scores from such tests provide a direct, empirical measure of undergraduate learning, and should therefore be accounted for in college rankings. However, due to what Martens calls a “culture of secrecy,” undergraduate institutions have historically been very resistant to releasing student test data. Martens argues that colleges are avoiding accountability and urges “full disclosure” of student test performance data so that colleges can be evaluated more accurately.
  • Martin, Jeremy P. “Moving Up in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings.”  Change. V47 n2 (March/April 2015): p. 52-61.
    In this article, Martin combines groups of colleges and universities into “clusters” based on their average ranking in U.S. News and World Report between 2005 and 2014. He argues that universities rarely move above their cluster and, as a result, should not dedicate significant resources to advancing their ranking.
  • McDonough, Patricia M., Anthony Lising Antonio, MaryBeth Walpole, and Leonor Xochitl Perez.  “College Rankings: Democratized College Knowledge for Whom?”  Research in Higher Education.  v39, n5 (October, 1998): p.513-537.“This paper is a study of who uses the contentious and seemingly influential newsmagazine rankings of U.S. colleges and universities, and an analysis of what types of freshmen find these rankings useful in making their choice of college.” (from Research in Higher Education)
  • McGuire, Michael D. “Validity Issues for Reputational Studies.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.45-60.“Validity criteria can and should be applied to reputational study models, and research that tests their validity and reliability should be conducted. Such concerns, while weighing heavily on the minds of institutional researchers and others on campus, have typically not been raised by consumers and publishers. Two studies of U.S. News and World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” suggest that this guide’s validity may be suspect, and that systematic research and development are long overdue.”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • McNeal, Cornelia H. “Who Says They Matter?” Currents, v30 n9 (October 2004): 28-30.This article presents a guidance counselor’s insights into “what parents and students really think about rankings.” McNeal points out that rankings, while imperfect, do help parents and students narrow down the overwhelming choices they face in selecting a college or university. Although some inflate the importance of rankings and let them dominate the decision-making process, she observes that “the majority of parents I’ve met and counseled is too savvy to let rankings lists rule the college application process.” The key piece of advice she offers parents is to scrutinize aspects of student and academic life that rankings cannot adequately capture to gain a more accurate picture of schools under consideration.
  • Meho, Lokman I., & Kristina M. Spurgin. “Ranking the Research Productivity of LIS Faculty and Schools: An Evaluation of Data Sources and Research Methods.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 56, no. 12 (October 2005): 1314-1331.“This study evaluates the data sources and research methods used in earlier studies to rank the research productivity of Library and Information Science (LIS) faculty and schools” (taken from article).
  • Meredith, Marc. “Why Do Universities Compete in the Ratings Game? An Empirical Analysis of the Effects of the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings” Research in Higher Education, v45 n5 (August 2004): 443-461.Examines the impact of the U.S. News rankings on a variety of variables. “The results show that many schools’ admission outcomes are responsive to movements in the rankings; however changes in rank are more significant at certain locations in the rankings and affect public and private schools differently. The results also show that the socioeconomic and racial demographics of highly ranked universities may also be affected by changes in rank” (from article abstract).
  • Monks, James and Ronald G. Ehrenberg.  The Impact of US News and World Report College Rankings on Admission Outcomes and Pricing Decisions at Selective Private Institutions. NBER Working Paper No. W7227, July 1999.The above link will take you to an abstract of the paper and will allow you to view an Adobe PDF version of the work.
  • Monks, James and Ronald G. Ehrenberg.  “U.S. News & World Report’s College Rankings: Why They Do Matter.”  Change. v31, n6 (Nov-Dec 1999): p.42-51.“Although the yearly rankings are greeted with disdain on many campuses, they have a measurable impact on admissions outcomes and pricing policies at highly ranked national universities and liberal arts colleges.”
  • Morse, Robert. Morse Code: Inside the College Rankings.This is a blog maintained by Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report where he develops the methodologies and surveys for the America’s Best Colleges and America’s Best Graduate Schools annual rankings. This blog discusses U.S. News & World Report as well as other rankings’ methodologies.
  • Morse, Robert J. and Jersey Gilbert. “Publisher’s Perspectives: Magazines.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.91-108.“College rankings prepared by popular magazines have generated considerable controversy in the higher education community. Robert J. Morse of, U.S. News and World Report, and Jersey Gilbert, formerly with Money Magazine, respond to the critics.”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • Myers, Luke and Robe, Jonathan. (March 2009)  College Rankings:  History, Criticism, and Reform.  Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
    This report recognizes a consumer need for information about academic quality, and questions how academic quality rankings have gained influence in higher education.  It investigates the historical development of these rankings, critics’ responses, effects of rankings on academic institutions, and initiatives to improve ranking methods.
  • Porter, Stephen. “The Robustness of the Graduation Rate Performance Indicator Used in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings.” The CASE International Journal of Educational Advancement. v1 n2: p.145-164 (2000).(Also available as an ERIC Document, E D432176).
  • Provan, David and Karen Abercromby. University League Tables and Rankings: A Critical Analysis CHEMS Paper no. 30, December 2000. (Commonwealth Higher Education Management Service) (21 p.)
    This paper provides an overview and analysis of five major university league tables including U.S. News and World Report, the Times Higher Education Supplement, Asiaweek, the Australian Good University Guide, and Maclean’s. Focusing on the methodology of the different rankings, the study spans the globe in its coverage. It also discusses the usefulness, criticisms, and statistical validity of rankings and their impact on students’ choices. (Paper can be requested electronically from the British Library Document Supply Centre.)
  • Qiu, Junping (2006).  An evaluation report of postgraduates’ education in China.  Beijing: Ke xue chu ban she.
  • Rauhvargers, Andrejs (2011). Global University Rankings and their Impact. European Union Association Report on Rankings 2011.
  • Ruahvargers, Andrejs (2013). Global University Rankings and Their Impact – Report II. EUA Report on Rankings 2013.In response to the growing influence college rankings have on university and public policies, this report from the European University Association analyzes new developments in global university rankings and methodologies that have taken place since the first report was published in 2011.
  • Rehmeyer, Julie. “Rating the Rankings.” Science News. (Oct 3, 2008.)This article discusses a new mathematical analysis asserting that the News & World Report rankings of colleges and universities are largely arbitrary. The ariticle argues that the magazine should release several different rankings, based on choices of a few representative sets of priorities.
  • “Responses to the Rankings.” Change. v24 n6 (Nov-Dec 1992): p.46-53.Abstract (from ERIC): Ten higher education professionals and one college senior comment on the U.S. News and World Report rankings of doctoral programs in six liberal arts disciplines. The authors’ response to one set of comments and the comments of an executive editor from the magazine are also included. (MSE)
  • Samarasekera, Indira. “Rising Up Against Rankings”.Inside Higher Ed. April 2, 2007.Samarasekera discusses the reasons 25 Canadian universities refused to take part in the Maclean’s (the Canadian equivalent to U.S. News & World Report) college rankings in 2006. This article hopes to support American universities that wish to boycott U.S. News & World Report rankings.
  • Samuelson, Robert J. In Praise of Rankings. Newsweek/Kaplan’s How To Get Into College (Alternate title: America’s Hottest Colleges). 2005 edition.Samuelson argues that college rankings have contributed to the creation of more “elite” schools than there used to be. This is partially due to supply and demand: there are more qualified students who want to attend top-ranked schools than there are available slots, which creates pressure for “second-tier” schools to improve their academic standards (and their position in the rankings).
  • Sauder, Michael and Wendy Nelson Espeland. The Discipline of Rankings: Tight Coupling and Organizational Change. American Sociological Review, Vol 74 (February 2009) :p. 63–82.Using a case study of law schools, this article seeks to explain how rankings “change how internal and external constituencies think about the field of legal education”.
  • Schatz, Martin D.  What’s Wrong With MBA Ranking Surveys?  Management Research News. v16 n7 (1993): p.15-18. (Only available to UIUC affiliates.)This article examines some of the most popular business school ranking services and describes many of their problems and pitfalls.  The author concludes with the following statement: ” Most likely, no single MBA program is best for everyone, and almost every program is best for someone. The match has to be individualized.
  • Selingo, Jeffrey. What the Rankings Do for ‘U.S. News’. Chronicle of Higher Education. v53 n38 (May 25, 2007).This article examines the positive impacts that U.S. News and World Report receives due to its college rankings.
  • Sponsler, Brian A. (September 2009) “The Role and Relevance of Rankings in Higher Education Policymaking.” Institute for Higher Education Policy.
    This brief investigates the similarities, differences, and effects of higher education rankings in relation to governmental policymaking and assessment. Recommendations and cautions are also given for using rankings in government assessment methods.
  • Staroba, K. “The Rankings Ruckus: PR Pros Talk about How — and How Not — to Publicize College Rankings.” Currents. v23 n6 (1997): p.30.
  • Stewart, James B. “How Much Graduates Earn Drives More College Rankings.” New York Times (October 2016). This article explores the new trend of ranking colleges based on outcomes and discusses factors within these rankings such as pay and job satisfaction.  It also notes the wide divergence in rankings based on chosen criteria. The article ends by encouraging families to consider outcome-based college rankings but to look at a wide variety of them.
  • Stuart, Debra L. “Reputational Rankings: Background and Development.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995): p.13-20.“This chapter discusses the history of and issues surrounding efforts to rate and rank colleges and universities.”  (from New Directions for Institutional Research)
  • Thompson, Nicholas. “The Best, The Top, The Most.” New York Times (August 3, 2003) 4A:24.This article explores the methodology used in rankings. Focusing on several ranking organizations, including U.S News and World Report and the Princeton Review, it examines the assorted factors and approaches and how universities, students, and parents react to the outcomes.
  • Tight, Malcom. “Do League Tables Contribute to the Development of a Quality Culture? Football and Higher Education Compared.” Higher Education Quarterly. v 54 n1 (January 2000): p.22-42.The author considers the use of league tables (comparative data and ranking tables) in summarizing the relative performance of universities and compares the use of league tables used in British higher education with those used in British soccer organizations.
  • Trieschmann, J.S. et al. “Serving Multiple Constituencies in Business School: MBA Program versus Research Performance.”  Academy of Management Journal v43 n6 (2000): p. 1130-1141.Specifically focused on business school programs, this article examines the difference between rankings using research performance criteria and the popular ranking services criteria. In addition to pointing to the significant differences between the results, the author also notes factors that contribute to and improve the outcome for each.
  • Walleri, R. Dan and Marsha K. Moss. “Evaluating and Responding to College Guidebooks and Rankings.” New Directions for Institutional Research. n88 (Winter 1995).An entire issue of this periodical devoted to guidebook and ranking issues.
  • Webster, David S. “Academic Rankings: First on a List of One.” Academe. v78 n5 (Sept-Oct 1992): p.19-22.Abstract (from ERIC): Although college rankings published in the mass media may not be the best way of comparing colleges, they provide more useful information than accrediting agencies, college catalogs, and most college guides. Administrators, not magazines, are to blame for their misuse. Rankings can help motivate programs, departments, and institutions to improve themselves. (MSE)
  • West, Charles K. and Younghie Rhee. “Ranking Departments or Sites Within Colleges of Education Using Multiple Standards: Departmental and Individual Productivity.”  Contemporary Educational Psychology.  v20, n2 (April 1995): p.151-171.This article attempts to identify standard ranking criteria and wants to “largely bypass opinion by having multiple, well-conceived indicators about which experts in the assorted fields have been consulted.”
  • World Education News & Reviews (2006).  World University Rankings.  Volume 19 Issue 4.This article offers a summary and critique on popular world rankings such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Times Higher University World Rankings, and Webometrics rankings.