Stanford University has been crowned #1 in the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking, which focuses on U.S. institutions.

Coming in second is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by Columbia University in third place.


Source: Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education


Now, we know what you’re thinking: “What, another university ranking? How is this one different from all the others?”

We’re glad you asked.

The methodology used for the rankings is said to differ by placing more importance on the student compared to more popular rankings, looking at things such as how well students do after graduation and what they thought of their university experience.


The ranking gives each college a score based on 15 factors across four broad categories: school resources, student engagement, learning environment (diversity and inclusiveness), and student outcomes.

The results also incorporated the survey responses of 100,000 college students across the country, which included questions regarding the teaching quality of their lecturers, classroom engagement, and whether they would recommend their school to others.

Duncan Ross, Times Higher Education (THE) director of data and analytics, said that including student engagement and learning environment in the metrics made the ranking stand out from other U.S. university league tables.


“One thing that differentiates us is that we are using a national student survey that we’ve commissioned and run.

“This is a very large-scale attempt to get some genuine student input from across the U.S. None of the other U.S. rankings have incorporated that to date,” he explained.

Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that the ranking is “driven entirely by what matters most to students and families,” and is “unique in giving students a voice in shaping the results”.

“The survey gets to the heart of what good teaching really is and how much a university is capable of stimulating and engaging students,” he said.


According to the WSJ, Stanford earned the top spot with a score of 92 out of 100 thanks to its strong leadership and convenient location – particularly to the booming Silicon Valley, which has benefited the university in terms of research opportunities and career prospects for students.

Speaking to the paper, Stanford’s Provost, John Etchemendy, said: “There’s a synergy between Stanford and the Valley that goes in both directions. Stanford has been incredibly fortunate.”

The other universities which made the top 10 include the usual all-star institutions, such as Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and University of Pennsylvania.


While all the top 10 colleges got top scores in terms of student outcomes, instructional finances, and research productivity, many did not do so well for student engagement, which goes to show where there’s room for improvement.

According to Baty, the ranking also shows a clear divide between public and private institutions, as private colleges received better scores and were more prevalent higher up in the rankings, mostly due to having larger coffers compared to public universities, which have limited funds.

Image via Flickr

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