At College Gazette, we take the methodology of our rankings seriously.

After all, what good is a rankings list without some serious thought, evaluation, and/or opinion from experts in the higher education industry.

Generally, our rankings, fall into one of three categories:

1. Meta-Analysis

The most common method of ranking schools is the meta-analysis strategy.

In meta-analysis, we analyze several other online published lists about the top schools in a category.

So, for example, let’s say we are examining the best business schools.

First, we will compare a number of different online lists from major publishers about the best business schools.

Next, we assign a score to each school based on its unique ranking position in each list.

From there, the schools with the highest scores across all the lists will be our top 10 schools.

A couple things to note when we do this:

First, this sometimes results in tiebreakers. We handle tiebreakers by analyzing how many lists the school appeared in.

So, if one school appears in 3 lists, and another appears in 4 lists, but their overall score was the same, the school appearing in 4 lists will be ranked higher as it was in more lists than the school appearing in only 3 lists.

For rankings where we analyze more than four lists, a school must appear on at least two separate lists to be in our rankings.

We also date the time and date we sourced the material for the list.

Why do we do this?

Because publishers regularly update their content, and so a list published in July may be updated by September.

So, we let you know what version of the list we are sourcing our rankings from.

2. Ranking Report

Another category of rankings is simply a report of another list’s ranking.

For example, if a major publication releases a ranking, we’ll let you know what their ranking is and our commentary behind their ranking.

These kinds of rankings are typically informed by just one ranking list are not a meta-analysis

3. Opinion-Based Ranking

Finally, the last category is opinion-based ranking.

Sometimes, rankings are not easily quantifiable, or there is very little data to represent their category online.

Yet they are extremely important.

For this category, a college specialist reports on their opinion of a piece.

This is the least common type of ranking published on our site, and most major categories – such as best schools, best majors, etc. – are represented in the first two categories.