10 schools with excellent student outcomes

Student outcome measures are tied to graduation rates, financial success, and academic reputation

The Wall Street Journal partnered with Times Higher Education (THE) in its joint inaugural rankings of U.S. colleges, focusing on institutions that place a high value on student outcomes. 

Results are based on 100,000 student responses as well as government data, surveys from THE, and Elsevier. Students responded to seven questions regarding their experience with professors, whether they were encouraged to think critically, and other measures of excellence.

The rankings are based on 15 factors across four categories:

  • Student outcomes (40%);
  • Institutional resources (30%);
  • Student engagement (20%); and
  • Learning environment (10%).

"College is about opening the door to economic independence," says Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. "You're going to have to have a career someday. You're going to do this for four or five years, but what you're going to do for the next 45 years is intimately linked to that."

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The top 10 institutions with the highest overall scores are:

1. Stanford University

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3. Columbia University

4. University of Pennsylvania

5. Yale University

6. Harvard University

7. Duke University

8. Princeton University

9. Cornell University

10. California Institute of Technology

The publication also released sub-rankings in each category that contributed to the final score: student outcomes, institutional resources, student engagement, and learning environment.

Most of the institutions with the highest overall scores also were among the highest rankings in the student outcomes category. The student outcomes category contributes most to each school's overall score and is based on:

  • Graduation rates;
  • Value added to salary 10 years after graduation;
  • Value added to graduates' ability to repay student debt; and
  • Academic reputation.

The 10 institutions with the highest scores for student outcomes were:

1. Yale University

2. Princeton University (tie)

2. Stanford University (tie)

4. Columbia University (tie)

4. Duke University (tie)

6. California Institute of Technology (tie)

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)

8. University of Chicago

9. University of Pennsylvania

10. Vanderbilt University

(Korn, Wall Street Journal, 9/27; Korn/Belkin, Wall Street Journal, 9/27; Times Higher Education, 9/16). 

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