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 Sky Conference (Average)

2016 University Academic Rankings

The Big Sky Conference (BSC) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA's Division I, with football competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. Member institutions are located in the western United States in the nine states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Four affiliate members each participate in one sport. Two schools from California are football-only participants, and two schools from the Northeast participate only in men's golf. Initially conceived for basketball, the BSC was founded in 1963 with six members in four states; four of the charter members have been in the league from its founding, and a fifth returned in 2014 after an 18-year absence.

50th anniversary

The 2012-13 season marked the completion of 50 years of athletic competition and 25 years sponsoring women's collegiate athletics. Before the season the league unveiled a new logo to celebrate this.

The 25th season of women's athletics also marked a first for the league, as Portland State won the league's inaugural softball championship. Women's sports were formerly conducted in the Mountain West Athletic Conference.

The Big Sky sponsors championships in 16 sports, including men's and women's cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field, basketball, and tennis. In addition, there are also championships in football, and women's volleyball, soccer, and softball.

Member schools | Full members | Affiliate members | Former members | Membership timeline | Sports

As of the 2015-16 school year, the Big Sky sponsors championships in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Cal Poly and UC Davis participate as football-only affiliates, otherwise participating in the Big West Conference. Binghamton and Hartford are affiliates in men's golf only, otherwise participating in the America East Conference. Before the 2014-15 school year, the latter two schools had participated in men's golf alongside five full Big Sky members in the single-sport America Sky Conference. The return of Idaho brought the number of members participating in men's golf to six, which led to the Big Sky adding men's golf and absorbing the America Sky Conference.


The Big Sky is unusual among Division I all-sports conferences in not sponsoring baseball. The conference originally sponsored baseball, with all members participating. When Boise State and Northern Arizona arrived for the 1971 season, competition was split into two divisions of four teams each, with the winners in a best-of-three championship series. Montana State and Montana soon dropped the sport and by the 1973 season, only six teams remained but the divisions were kept, and Boise State moved over to the North Division for two years. In May 1974, the Big Sky announced its intention to discontinue five of its ten sponsored sports. It retained football, basketball, cross-county, track, and wrestling, and dropped conference competition in baseball, golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. Of the eleven Big Sky baseball titles, four each went to Idaho (1964,'66,'67,'69) and Gonzaga (1965,'71,'73,'74), and three to Weber State (1968,'70,'72). Gonzaga won the final title in 1974 over Idaho State in three games, after losing the first game in Pocatello. Southern division champion Idaho State chose to end its baseball program weeks following the conference's announcement, and Gonzaga, Idaho, and Boise State joined the new Northern Pacific League (NorPac) for baseball in 1975. Boise State and Idaho competed in the NorPac for six seasons, then discontinued baseball after the 1980 season. Currently, three Big Sky members sponsor baseball: North Dakota, Northern Colorado, and Sacramento St. All three compete in the Western ... [more on wikipedia]

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Big Sky Conference (Average)", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

Big Sky Conference Details

Big Sky Conference Details
detail value
conferenceBig Sky Conference
overall ROI rank[170
scores validTrue
Common Questions...

What are the academic rankings for Big Sky Conference (Average)?

1. number - for Academics.

2. number 170 for ROI (Return on Investment).

What universities are similar to Big Sky Conference (Average)?

1. Mississippi State University

2. Clemson University

3. University of Illinois at Chicago

4. University of Massachusetts-Lowell

5. University at Buffalo

6. Kansas State University

7. North Dakota State University

National Academic Rankings

(summary of all ranking placements)

Big Sky Conference National Academic Rankings

Big Sky Conference National Academic Rankings
category rank scores difficulty smartest brainpower faculty research salary ROI overall ROI
Top Ten Top250-22219716816215191119170

Peer Universities / Similar Universities

(mathematically similar student body, size, academics, stem, salary... etc)

Big Sky Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Big Sky Conference

Big Sky Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Big Sky Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
Mississippi State UniversityMississippiSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage197130
Clemson UniversitySouth CarolinaAtlantic Coast ConferencePublicAboveAverage9851
University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinoisHorizon LeaguePublicAboveAverage159111
University of Massachusetts-LowellMassachusettsAmerica EastPublicAboveAverage247275
University at BuffaloNew YorkMid American ConferencePublicAboveAverage124190
Kansas State UniversityKansasBig Twelve ConferencePublicAverage249168
North Dakota State UniversityNorth DakotaMissouri Valley Conference / T...PublicAverage261196
Rowan UniversityNew JerseyNew Jersey Athletic ConferencePublicAboveAverage306392
University of Oklahoma-Norman CampusOklahomaBig Twelve ConferencePublicAboveAverage13754
University of Alabama at BirminghamAlabamaConference USAPublicAboveAverage153148
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsColoradoMountain West ConferencePublicAboveAverage143139
University of LouisvilleKentuckyAtlantic Coast ConferencePublicAverage258224
University of ToledoOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage405285
University of Nevada-RenoNevadaMountain West ConferencePublicAverage289340
Drexel UniversityPennsylvaniaColonial Athletic AssociationPrivateAboveAverage120134
University of Hawaii at ManoaHawaiiMountain West Conference / Big...PublicAverage204245
University of North FloridaFloridaAtlantic Sun ConferencePublicAboveAverage219214
CUNY Brooklyn CollegeNew YorkCity University of New York At...PublicAverage296394
Southern Illinois University-CarbondaleIllinoisMissouri Valley ConferencePublicAverage368278
Montana State UniversityMontanaBig Sky ConferencePublicAboveAverage217168
Boise State UniversityIdahoMountain West ConferencePublicAverage389329
University of Akron Main CampusOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage331251
Auburn UniversityAlabamaSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage13979
University of Southern MississippiMississippiConference USAPublicAverage493423
Wichita State UniversityKansasMissouri Valley ConferencePublicAverage382307
Southern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleIllinoisOhio Valley ConferencePublicAverage438368
South Dakota State UniversitySouth DakotaMissouri Valley Conference / T...PublicAverage354263
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginiaAtlantic 10 ConferencePublicAboveAverage178207
University of UtahUtahPacific 12 ConferencePublicAboveAverage14286
University of California-IrvineCaliforniaBig West ConferencePublicAboveAverage108162
University of WyomingWyomingMountain West ConferencePublicAboveAverage250152
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical CollegeLouisianaSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage14888
University of Colorado BoulderColoradoPacific 12 ConferencePublicAboveAverage7959
University of IdahoIdahoSun Belt Conference / Big Sky ...PublicAverage379216
Iowa State UniversityIowaBig Twelve ConferencePublicAboveAverage12971
University of DaytonOhioPioneer Football League / Atla...PrivateAboveAverage278138
Marquette UniversityWisconsinBig East ConferencePrivateAboveAverage197121
Purdue UniversityIndianaBig Ten ConferencePublicAboveAverage5720
University of South FloridaFloridaAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAboveAverage94113
Arizona State University-TempeArizonaPacific 12 ConferencePublicAboveAverage10182
Texas A & M University-College StationTexasSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage7122
Mercer UniversityGeorgiaSouthern ConferencePrivateAboveAverage237242
University of the PacificCaliforniaWest Coast ConferencePrivateAboveAverage251344
University of Detroit MercyMichiganHorizon LeaguePrivateAboveAverage415313
California State University-ChicoCaliforniaCalifornia Collegiate Athletic...PublicAverage392409
Northern Illinois UniversityIllinoisMid American ConferencePublicAverage435289
Stony Brook UniversityNew YorkColonial Athletic Association ...PublicGood62109
The University of Texas at DallasTexasAmerican Southwest ConferencePublicGood7055
University of ConnecticutConnecticutBig East ConferencePublicGood87139
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPennsylvaniaAtlantic Coast ConferencePublicGood5075

Academic Peer Universities / Similar Academics

(mathematically similar academics)

Big Sky Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Big Sky Conference

Big Sky Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Big Sky Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
Mississippi State UniversityMississippiSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage197130
Temple UniversityPennsylvaniaAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAboveAverage168199
New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNew JerseyIndependent Northeast RegionPublicAboveAverage195185
San Diego State UniversityCaliforniaMountain West ConferencePublicAverage183218
University of ArkansasArkansasSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage171119
Pacific - 12 Conference (Low)-Pacific 12 Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-115
Mid - American Conference (Average)-Mid American Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-185
James Madison UniversityVirginiaColonial Athletic AssociationPublicAboveAverage196170
University of Missouri-Kansas CityMissouriWestern Athletic ConferencePublicAboveAverage197155
Mountain West Conference (Average)-Mountain West Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-193
Marquette UniversityWisconsinBig East ConferencePrivateAboveAverage197121
Conference USA (Average)-Conference USA-Conf-AboveAverage-148
Southeastern Conference (Low)-Southeastern Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-115
DePaul UniversityIllinoisBig East ConferencePrivateAboveAverage193150
CUNY Hunter CollegeNew YorkCity University of New York At...PublicAboveAverage193228
Truman State UniversityMissouriGreat Lakes Valley ConferencePublicAboveAverage208189
West Coast Conference (Average)-West Coast Conference-Conf-Good-155
Big East Conference (Average)-Big East Conference-Conf-Good-144
Chapman UniversityCaliforniaSouthern California Intercoll ...PrivateGood208242
Elon UniversityNorth CarolinaColonial Athletic AssociationPrivateGood200178
Clark UniversityMassachusettsNew England Women's & Men's At...PrivateGood201224
Division I Independents (Average)-Division I Independents-Conf-Excellent-59
Union CollegeKentuckyMid - South Conference / Appal...PrivateBelowAverage162178
Occidental CollegeCaliforniaSouthern California Intercoll ...PrivateExcellent158162