College Rankings Methodology

To determine Teacher.org's "Best Colleges" rankings an objective collection of college data was needed, so the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) (https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds) was used as our raw data starting point. The IPEDS data was matched up to the accrediation data provided by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Post-secondary Education (OPE) (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/).

The following survey files from IPEDS were used:

  • 2014 Institutional Characteristics Survey
    • HD2014
    • IC2014
    • IC2014_AY
  • 2014 Completions Survey
    • C2014_A
    • C2014DEP
  • 2014 Graduation Rates
    • GR2014

Once all the data was obtained, the colleges with the following characteristics were excluded:

  • Nonoperational colleges as reported in data files
  • Less than 4 year colleges (Sector Code: 4-9)
  • Colleges with less than 100 total graduates per year

The rankings were based on the combined score of 4 weighted areas as detailed below:

  1. % of Program Graduates out of All Graduates per Year
  2. Graduation Rate
  3. Loan Default Rate
  4. Tuition Affordability

Once college exclusions were applied, the ranking process proceeded as follows for each degree ranking separately:

  1. The college with the highest % of program graduates compared to total graduates was given a score of 100 and other colleges were scored as a percentage of this score.
  2. The college with the best graduation rate was given a score of 100 and other colleges were scored as a percentage of this score.
  3. The college with the lowest loan default rate was given a score of 100 and other colleges were scored as a percentage of this score.
  4. The college with the lowest tuition was given a score of 100 and other colleges were scored as a percentage of this score.
  5. The above criteria were grouped and weighted to produce a final overall score.
  6. Overall scores were then sorted and listed from the highest to lowest.
  7. If two colleges have the same overall score the college with more online education options will be ranked ahead.

Ranking Details By Program Type

The table below lists information by program type, including the number of colleges analyzed and the number of top ranked programs.

Program TypeColleges AnalyzedColleges Ranked
Early Childhood Education42520
Educational Leadership56320
Elementary Education78120
Master's in Education35220
Special Education40020

Questions or Comments?

We do realize that there is far more to consider in defining which college programs are the best for a career in education, but we believe that providing this information can highlight some of the colleges that have shown great successes in the area of education and teaching.

Please send comments or questions via our contact form.