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

Southern Conference (Average)

2016 University Academic Rankings

The Southern Conference (SoCon) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Southern Conference football teams compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA). Member institutions are located in the states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The Southern Conference ranks as the fifth oldest major college athletic conference in the United States. Only the Big Ten (1896), Missouri Valley (1907), Pac-12 (1915), and Southwestern Athletic (1920) conferences are older. The SoCon was the first conference to use the three-point field goal in basketball in a November 29, 1980 game at Western Carolina against Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where Ronnie Carr shot the historic shot from 22 feet (6.7 m) away and the Catamounts won 77-70.

The Southern Conference is considered one of the stronger football conferences in the Football Championship Subdivision and is considered a mid-major conference in basketball. It has also garnered considerable national attention from its recent success in these sports: in particular, former member, three-time Division I NCAA Football champion Appalachian State Mountaineers, who stunned the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines 34-32 on September 1, 2007; from the Davidson Wildcats, who reached the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament by upsetting power programs Gonzaga (a mid-major school which became a power program in the 2000s), Georgetown, and Wisconsin. More recently, the six-time Division I NCAA Football champion Georgia Southern Eagles stunned Southeastern Conference power-house Florida Gators 26-20 in The Swamp on November 23, 2013-the first loss to a lower division opponent in the Florida program's history. In 2015, Furman defeated UCF 16-15 and The Citadel topped South Carolina 23-22 for their second win over the Gamecocks in the past three meetings. The SoCon also frequently sees multiple teams selected to participate in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.


Talks of a new conference for southern athletics had started as early as fall of 1920. The conference was formed on February 25, 1921 in Atlanta as fourteen member institutions split from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Southern Conference charter members were Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington & Lee. In 1922, six more universities - Florida, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane, and Vanderbilt joined the conference. The first year of competition for the conference was in 1922, effective January 1. The new rules banned freshman play. Later additions included Sewanee (1923), Virginia Military Institute (1924), and Duke (1929).

The SoCon is particularly notable for having spawned two other major conferences. In 1932, the 13 schools located south and west of the Appalachians (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, University of the South(Sewanee), Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt) all departed the SoCon to form the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In 1953, seven additional schools (Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest) withdrew from the SoCon to form the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The SEC and ACC have gone on to surpass their parent conference in prestige; while the SEC and ACC are considered "power" conferences in Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A), the SoCon dropped to Division I-AA (FCS) in 1982, four years after the top division was split into two levels in 1978.

The SoCon became the first league to hold a ... [more on wikipedia]

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

Southern Conference Details

Southern Conference Details
detail value
conferenceSouthern Conference
overall ROI rank[361
scores validTrue
Common Questions...

What are the academic rankings for Southern Conference (Average)?

1. number - for Academics.

2. number 361 for ROI (Return on Investment).

What universities are similar to Southern Conference (Average)?

1. University of St Thomas

2. Loyola Marymount University

3. Truman State University

4. University of San Diego

5. State University of New York at New Paltz

6. University of San Francisco

7. SUNY College at Oswego

National Academic Rankings

(summary of all ranking placements)

Southern Conference National Academic Rankings

Southern Conference National Academic Rankings
category rank scores difficulty smartest brainpower faculty research salary ROI overall ROI

Peer Universities / Similar Universities

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

Southern Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Southern Conference

Southern Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Southern Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
University of St ThomasMinnesotaMinnesota Intercollegiate Ath ConfPrivateAboveAverage238156
Loyola Marymount UniversityCaliforniaWest Coast ConferencePrivateAboveAverage218233
Truman State UniversityMissouriGreat Lakes Valley ConferencePublicAboveAverage208189
University of San DiegoCaliforniaPioneer Football League / West...PrivateGood203195
State University of New York at New PaltzNew YorkState University of New York A...PublicAboveAverage341457
University of San FranciscoCaliforniaWest Coast ConferencePrivateAboveAverage226241
SUNY College at OswegoNew YorkState University of New York A...PublicAboveAverage361450
University of Louisiana at MonroeLouisianaSun Belt ConferencePublicAverage485352
Christopher Newport UniversityVirginiaUSA South Athletic Conference ...PublicAboveAverage268320
Adelphi UniversityNew YorkNortheast 10 ConferencePrivateAboveAverage365444
Gonzaga UniversityWashingtonWest Coast ConferencePrivateAboveAverage235214
Salisbury UniversityMarylandEmpire Eight / Capital Athleti...PublicAboveAverage243358
Monmouth UniversityNew JerseyBig South Conference / Metro A...PrivateAverage478477
Mercer UniversityGeorgiaSouthern ConferencePrivateAboveAverage237242
Marquette UniversityWisconsinBig East ConferencePrivateAboveAverage197121
University of DaytonOhioPioneer Football League / Atla...PrivateAboveAverage278138
Seattle UniversityWashingtonWestern Athletic ConferencePrivateAboveAverage280320
University of Mary WashingtonVirginiaCapital Athletic ConferencePublicAboveAverage424386
University of ScrantonPennsylvaniaLandmark ConferencePrivateAboveAverage399368
University of Northern IowaIowaMissouri Valley ConferencePublicAboveAverage252248
Dallas Baptist UniversityTexasHeartland ConferencePrivateAboveAverage408342
University of VermontVermontAmerica EastPublicAboveAverage136191
Drake UniversityIowaPioneer Football League / Miss...PrivateAboveAverage263136
University of North Carolina WilmingtonNorth CarolinaColonial Athletic AssociationPublicAboveAverage221228
Lipscomb UniversityTennesseeAtlantic Sun ConferencePrivateAboveAverage303255
California Lutheran UniversityCaliforniaSouthern California Intercoll ...PrivateAboveAverage481488
University of the SciencesPennsylvaniaCentral Atlantic Collegiate ConfPrivateAboveAverage338272
University of DallasTexasSouthern Collegiate Athletic C...PrivateAboveAverage282175
SUNY OneontaNew YorkState University of New York A...PublicAverage365466
Ramapo College of New JerseyNew JerseyNew Jersey Athletic ConferencePublicAverage369437
The College of New JerseyNew JerseyNew Jersey Athletic ConferencePublicGood164193
Howard UniversityWashington DCMid Eastern Athletic ConferencePrivateAverage343429
SUNY College at BrockportNew YorkEmpire Eight / State Universit...PublicAverage473487
Rutgers University-NewarkNew JerseyNew Jersey Athletic ConferencePublicAverage371392
Pace University-New YorkNew YorkNortheast 10 ConferencePrivateAverage476465
University of Wisconsin-Stevens PointWisconsinWisconsin Intercollegiate Ath ConfPublicAverage466414
Creighton UniversityNebraskaBig East ConferencePrivateAboveAverage273190
University of Colorado Colorado SpringsColoradoRocky Mountain Athletic ConferencePublicAverage451347
Calvin CollegeMichiganMichigan Intercollegiate Athle...PrivateAboveAverage255209
The University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaTennesseeSouthern ConferencePublicAverage434464
University of PortlandOregonWest Coast ConferencePrivateAboveAverage235245
Loyola University ChicagoIllinoisMissouri Valley ConferencePrivateAboveAverage228206
College of CharlestonSouth CarolinaColonial Athletic AssociationPublicAboveAverage219233
Catholic University of AmericaWashington DCOld Dominion Athletic Conferen...PrivateAboveAverage381458
South Dakota State UniversitySouth DakotaMissouri Valley Conference / T...PublicAverage354263
Webster UniversityMissouriSt.Louis Intercollegiate Ath ConfPrivateAboveAverage458421
Hope CollegeMichiganMichigan Intercollegiate Athle...PrivateAboveAverage244227
Cedarville UniversityOhioPrivateAboveAverage287278
Seattle Pacific UniversityWashingtonGreat Northwest Athletic ConferencePrivateAboveAverage383384
Valparaiso UniversityIndianaPioneer Football League / Hori...PrivateAverage407281

Academic Peer Universities / Similar Academics

(mathematically similar academics)

Southern Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Southern Conference

Southern Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Southern Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
Great Lakes Valley Conference (Low)-Great Lakes Valley Conference-Conf-Average-319
Empire Eight (Average)-Empire Eight-Conf-AboveAverage-460
Arizona State University-Downtown PhoenixArizonaPacific 12 ConferencePublicAverage357234
Quinnipiac UniversityConnecticutMetro Atlantic Athletic ConferencePrivateAverage353433
Atlantic 10 Conference (Low)-Atlantic 10 Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-336
Gulf South Conference (Average)-Gulf South Conference-Conf-Average-340
Missouri Valley Conference (Low)-Missouri Valley Conference-Conf-Average-270
Point Loma Nazarene UniversityCaliforniaPacific West ConferencePrivateAboveAverage357440
New Jersey Athletic Conference (Average)-New Jersey Athletic Conference-Conf-Average-436
Big South Conference (Average)-Big South Conference-Conf-Average-392
Regis UniversityColoradoRocky Mountain Athletic ConferencePrivateAverage360303
City University of New York Ath Conf (Average)-City University of New York At...-Conf-Average-463
VanderCook College of MusicIllinoisNo Conference AffiliationPrivateAboveAverage355454
Old Dominion UniversityVirginiaConference USAPublicAverage356368
South Dakota State UniversitySouth DakotaMissouri Valley Conference / T...PublicAverage354263
University of MemphisTennesseeAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAverage359314
Conference USA (Low)-Conference USA-Conf-Average-272