Our Rankings Methodology

When viewing school rankings, students should consider our methodology to assess the validity of the data. SocialWorkGuide.org aggregates relevant indicators about colleges and universities to objectively rank schools and programs. These factors may include affordability, academic quality, and reputation. Rankings assessing online programs may include additional factors, such as online competency or breadth and depth of educational opportunities.

Additionally, SocialWorkGuide.org rankings maintain objectivity by refusing any outside influence. The vetting process also includes data from national databases and a formula developed by the SocialWorkGuide.org team, which highlights key factors. See the section below to learn more about our unique formula.

While these rankings cover multiple key schools, students should note that these are not exhaustive lists. Therefore, students should explore additional resources. However, aspiring students may use these rankings as a resource to research and evaluate potential schools.

About Our Data

SocialWorkGuide.org uses the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a federal entity that collects and analyzes educational data, to evaluate schools included in rankings. This system gathers information from every postsecondary institution that allows students to use federal financial aid. Additionally, the SocialWorkGuide.org quality assurance team assesses all datasets included in rankings.

However, students should note that SocialWorkGuide.org excludes institutions that do not disclose enough data or key data points. Excluding schools with insufficient information improves the quality of ranking calculations. The 2021 rankings include data drawn from December 2020.

How We Calculate Our Rankings

Understanding the calculations behind rankings can help students identify if the information meets their needs. SocialWorkGuide.org uses four major criteria categories to weigh schools. These factors include the quality of academic programs, overall costs, the school's reputation, and accessibility for online students.

Ranking calculations also consider subfactors. However, SocialWorkGuide.org calculates subfactor categories differently based on student values. For instance, distance learners value accessibility and may want to learn more about the percent of students enrolled in online programs overall. Degree-seekers can view all subfactors in the section below.

Subfactors for Academics

  • Full-time retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Student-to-faculty ratio

Subfactors for Cost

  • Average net price for students awarded grant or scholarship aid
  • Federal student aid default loan rate
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal student loans
  • Percent of full-time first time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  • Average amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded
  • Median debt for graduates (six years after entry)

Subfactors for Reputation

  • Percent admitted total
  • Admissions yield total
  • Mean earnings of graduates six years after enrolling

Subfactors for Accessibility

  • Percentage of students enrolled in online programs at a specific level
  • Percentage of students enrolled online overall
  • Percentage of degrees offered at specific level