University Benchmarks

Ranking the Top 100 Academic Universities ranks the universities that attract and produce the best academic students.

There are many 'University Rankings' on the internet. Most rankings rely heavily on subjective metrics like 'reputation' and 'selectivity'. UniversityBenchmarks is purely an academic ranking model. The rankings are based on the reported academic and financial metrics of the colleges. There are no subjective factors like 'reputation' that are used. The calculations are performed using normal statistical models. All universities are considered equal and there is no weighting of the ranking categories.

The university 2014-2015 dataset is comprised of over 2400 US Universities & Colleges and comes from multiple sources using the most favorable reported metrics for a university.

The universities are ranked against each other in each filtered set. It is an iterative process whereby lower ranking universities are removed and the set is re-ranked until the final set of 100 is reached.

Selecting 'Rank Top 10 Only' will show the Top 10 for each filter category ranked against each other.

The academic rankings of the universities within the major conferences (ACC, Big12, Big10, Pac12, SEC) are available.

The 2017 rankings will be available in August.

  • It is possible for universities to be ranked higher/lower than one another depending on the filter set.
  • Conference averages are based on the top 8 schools in the conference.
  • Public Schools are highlighted
  • Clicking on the university's seal icon will take you to the university's website.

Ranking Fields

Rank - Overall rank based on the average of the ranking fields (Scores, Difficulty, Smartest, Brainpower, Faculty and Research).

Scores - SAT & ACT scores. The university's test scores are corrected for dropout rate when score level is Good, Excellent or Elite. This will slightly boost scores for highly competitive schools.

Difficulty - Academic rigor is estimated based on how difficult it is to get an "A" at the university. An estimated GPA at the university is calculated for the average US Student. University grade inflation, average GPA, and STEM density are factors.

Smartest - University that can field the highest scoring students based on the average US University size. Higher Smartest Rank = "Smartest for the Average University"

Brainpower - The average "smartest" rank using 5 reference populations (CalTech, MIT, Stanford, GaTech and Berkeley). Higher Brainpower Rank = "Higher Density of Smart Students". The university ranked higher can mathematically field 'X' number of smarter students than universities ranked below them.

Faculty - Ranking based on number of % of faculty with awards and academy membership.

Research - Ranking is achieved by iteratively ranking the average of 3 research metrics (r-pop, r-stem, r-other ). The lowest ranked college is then removed and the new set is re-ranked. The result is the schools with potentially the strongest research environments per student bubble up to the top regardless of size or research budget.

  • r-pop - Average research spending for student population
  • r-stem - STEM research spending
  • r-other - Other/Medical/Health research spending

Salary ROI - "Salary Return on Investment" is not used in the overall ranking but is provided for additional information. Using the undergraduate average starting and mid-career salaries, the rank is based on a 20yr salary accumulation (with raises) minus the cost of a 4 year education at the university. Salaries are normalized across the country using the average COLA for the university's geo-economic region (7 regions total). The COLA effect is diminished by the level of the university. Elite, Excellent and Good universities have a greater distribution of graduates across the country and a diminishing COLA effect. The resultant value would be the graduate's spending potential over the 20yr period.

Overall ROI - "Overall Return on Investment" is not used in the overall ranking but is provided for additional information. The average of Overall Rank and Salary ROI. This would be the "Best academic bang for the buck". Colleges that produce the best education, at the best price, with the best return will be ranked higher.

Color Key - ranks are colorized as follows 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 50 100

The 2016 University Academic Rankings

Big Ten Conference Academic Rankings

Search :
examples: Yale "Wake Forest" "Big Ten" TX NC

2016 Big Ten Conference : Big 10 Academic Rankings

2016 Big Ten Conference : Big 10 Academic Rankings
rank value image public university state conference scores difficulty smartest brainpower faculty research r pop r stem r other salary ROI overall ROI scores value difficulty value smartest value brainpower value faculty value research value salary ROI value overall ROI value scores level stem drop gpa avg research undergrads grads salary price scores valid
PrivateNorthwestern UniversityIllinoisBig Ten Conference111126296412207|921.16|712243|932187|9120|934.67|951606191|802.50|982207/1471/33Elite2663.416189048125065630065519True
PublicUniversity of Michigan-Ann ArborMichiganBig Ten Conference222241111312078|871.74|562206|922177|9131|901.00|991623972|812.50|982078/1385/31Excellent33103.27126228395152305800055404True
-Conf-Ivy League (Average)-Ivy League122226297542209|921.20|702241|932183|9118|945.00|951491251|754.00|962209/1473/33Elite2843.43580824691005957563427True
PublicUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinoisBig Ten Conference3433191087212012|842.05|492176|912143|8914|967.67|921641922|822.50|982012/1341/30Excellent31163.2554832959121815640044194True
PublicUniversity of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinnesotaBig Ten Conference554464734541977|822.10|482158|902123|8847|843.33|971463954|734.50|961977/1318/30Excellent38283.2582034351167965000032924True
PublicUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonWisconsinBig Ten Conference676632222651945|812.28|432131|892092|8729|911.67|981463214|735.50|951945/1296/29Excellent33173.25110430694119044960040644True
-Conf-Big Ten Conference (Average)-Big Ten Conference454566264771997|832.05|492158|902122|8841|864.67|951462638|736.00|941997/1332/30Excellent31183.2275828699125465231345725True
-Conf-Ivy League (Low)-Ivy League2348613131315552127|891.96|512172|912090|8735|8813.33|871491251|755.00|952127/1418/32Elite2843.43217824691005957563427True
PublicUniversity of Maryland-College ParkMarylandBig Ten Conference4355101096121281982|832.00|502146|892106|8861|808.33|921286437|648.50|921982/1321/30Excellent45173.2548327056105545390044645True
PublicOhio State UniversityOhioBig Ten Conference7677115873871893|792.26|442129|892092|8769|774.00|961388982|697.50|931893/1262/28Good26193.0078544741135814930042285True
PublicPennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaBig Ten Conference109889324513111785|742.49|382063|862016|8459|802.33|981265338|6310.50|901785/1190/27AboveAverage37122.957884054164995250047548True
PublicUniversity of IowaIowaBig Ten Conference81110108721281191845|772.60|352045|851987|8358|815.67|941333839|6710.00|901845/1230/28Good17283.104452235476164500040191True
PublicRutgers University-New BrunswickNew JerseyBig Ten Conference989971213101114121805|752.48|382060|862011|8451|8311.00|891169199|5811.50|891805/1203/27AboveAverage27212.9543234544138345080044711True
PublicPurdue UniversityIndianaBig Ten Conference11101111472510151775|742.50|382030|851976|8231|905.67|941666579|835.00|951775/1183/27AboveAverage41302.955773023795155550041804True
-Conf-Big Ten Conference (Low)-Big Ten Conference9159101112131012791834|762.73|322061|862010|8469|7711.33|891462638|739.50|911834/1223/28Good31183.2244528699125465231345725True
PublicMichigan State UniversityMichiganBig Ten Conference14131313111112119791640|682.67|331979|821919|8077|7510.00|901436740|729.50|911640/1093/25Average24212.8046438786112954880047115True
PublicIndiana University-BloomingtonIndianaBig Ten Conference13141212131414141410121740|732.69|332028|841975|8280|7314.00|861367915|6811.50|891740/1160/26AboveAverage10252.951823641999974540047270True
PublicUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnNebraskaBig Ten Conference1212141414131113139121745|732.63|341969|821894|79123|5912.33|881388633|6911.50|891745/1163/26AboveAverage23302.952271997950274450036706True

Common Questions...

What are the best colleges in the Big 10?

1. Northwestern University

2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

4. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

5. University of Wisconsin-Madison

6. University of Maryland-College Park

7. Ohio State University

2016 Top 10 Big Ten Conference : Big 10 Academic Rankings

2016 Top 10 Big Ten Conference : Big 10 Academic Rankings
rank value public name state conference scores difficulty smartest brainpower faculty research salary ROI overall ROI scores level stem drop gpa avg research undergrads grads salary price
12.00PrivateNorthwestern UniversityIllinoisBig Ten Conference111126312207/1471/33Elite2663.416189048125065630065519
22.17PublicUniversity of Michigan-Ann ArborMichiganBig Ten Conference222241212078/1385/31Excellent33103.27126228395152305800055404
-2.50-Conf-Ivy League (Average)-Ivy League122226442209/1473/33Elite2843.43580824691005957563427
33.83PublicUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinoisBig Ten Conference343319112012/1341/30Excellent31163.2554832959121815640044194
44.50PublicUniversity of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinnesotaBig Ten Conference554454441977/1318/30Excellent38283.2582034351167965000032924
-4.83-Conf-Big Ten Conference (Average)-Big Ten Conference454556651997/1332/30Excellent31183.2275828699125465231345725
55.00PublicUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonWisconsinBig Ten Conference676632551945/1296/29Excellent33173.25110430694119044960040644
-5.33-Conf-Ivy League (Low)-Ivy League2348510452127/1418/32Elite2843.43217824691005957563427
65.67PublicUniversity of Maryland-College ParkMarylandBig Ten Conference435598871982/1321/30Excellent45173.2548327056105545390044645
77.00PublicOhio State UniversityOhioBig Ten Conference7677105651893/1262/28Good26193.0078544741135814930042285
87.67PublicPennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaBig Ten Conference1098883981785/1190/27AboveAverage37122.957884054164995250047548
98.50PublicRutgers University-New BrunswickNew JerseyBig Ten Conference989961010101805/1203/27AboveAverage27212.9543234544138345080044711
108.67PublicUniversity of IowaIowaBig Ten Conference810101077781845/1230/28Good17283.104452235476164500040191