Key changes in how 2022 best colleges rankings were calculated

The 37th edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings was released today. Since the mid-1980s, U.S. News has annually published data on colleges and universities to help prospective students and their families make the important — and costly — decision about choosing the right school.

For the 2022 edition, U.S. News didn’t add new ranking indicators or change the weights of existing indicators for the overall Best Colleges rankings.

Over the nearly 40 years of publishing these rankings, there have been many changes to the metrics and weights, mainly placing a greater focus on outcome measures like graduation rates, retention rates and social mobility indicators. Still, the mission behind Best Colleges has remained the same. Whether prospective students are looking for the Best Value Schools and A-plus Schools for B Students or want information on campus life and tuition, U.S. News publishes data to help students pick the best school for them.

Below are the most significant methodology changes made for the 2022 edition of the Best Colleges rankings. For a thorough explanation, read this article on how U.S. News calculated the overall rankings. For an even deeper dive into how U.S. News computed the ranking indicators, see all the Best Colleges methodology articles.

Overall Rankings

SAT/ACT test score changes: Schools now receive full credit on ACT/SAT scores when they reported on at least 50% of new entrants for fall 2020. In previous years, the threshold was 75%. This change was made to account for the growth of test-optional policies and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the fall 2020 admissions process for many schools.

If a school had less than 50% of entering students submit test scores, its SAT/ACT scores in the rankings were discounted by 15%. For the 2022 edition, only 4% of ranked schools reporting SAT/ACT data on their fall 2020 entering classes incurred this discount.

More averaging of Best Colleges ranking factors: Average class size, faculty salaries and the two student indebtedness indicators are now based on two-year averages. Previously, only one year of data was used in these indicators. This reduces the year-to-year volatility of these ranking indicators.

Change in overall ranking eligibility rules: Schools with fewer than 10 peer assessment ratings over the most recent two-year period are now eligible to be ranked if they meet the other ranking eligibility criteria. Previously, they were automatically listed as unranked. This resulted in a small number of additional schools being added to the Best Colleges rankings.

Additional Best Colleges Rankings

New undergraduate nursing program ranking: U.S. News has published a new undergraduate nursing program ranking of 694 schools offering the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, degree. Nursing is a rapidly growing occupation, and nurses have played an essential role during the pandemic. U.S. News included schools with accredited four-year and degree-completion programs that conferred at least 35 BSN degrees in 2018-2019.

New computer science specialty ranking: For the first time, U.S. News has ranked the rapidly growing g ame/simulation development offering within some undergraduate computer science programs.

Undergraduate business and undergraduate engineering: The overall undergraduate business and the two overall undergraduate engineering rankings are now based only on the most recent year’s peer assessment survey data. Previously, all three rankings had been based on the two most recent years of peer assessment data. The specialty rankings associated with all three rankings will continue to be based on the most recent year’s peer assessment rankings.

Revised Best Colleges for Veterans ranking methodology: The 2022 Best Colleges for Veterans rankings were revised so private schools receive extra credit if Yellow Ribbon benefits are available to all qualifying students and/or the maximum Yellow Ribbon funding is provided. All public schools also received this credit.

The result is schools that allow students to take full advantage of their Yellow Ribbon programs, when applicable, get some additional credit in the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking. The revised methodology means that the order of schools included in the 2022 Best Colleges for Veterans rankings may differ modestly from their relative positioning in the overall Best Colleges rankings.

Enhanced data published in the online directory for each school: The online directory based on information U.S. News collected from colleges has new information regarding virtual tours, school-issued laptops, students with autism spectrum disorder, mixed-gender and gender-neutral housing, and more.

More from U.S. News

Princeton, Williams Top 2022 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

Explore the 2022 Best National Universities

See the 2022 Best Liberal Arts Colleges

Key Changes in How the 2022 Best Colleges Rankings Were Calculated originally appeared on

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