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

Sun Belt Conference (Average)

2016 University Academic Rankings

The Sun Belt Conference is a collegiate athletic conference that has been affiliated with the NCAA's Division I since 1976. Originally a non-football conference, the Sun Belt began sponsoring football in 2001. Its football teams participate in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The 11 member institutions of the Sun Belt are distributed primarily across the southern United States.


The Sun Belt Conference was founded on August 4, 1976 with the University of New Orleans, the University of South Alabama, Georgia State University, Jacksonville University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of South Florida. Over the next ten years the conference would add Western Kentucky University, Old Dominion University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Virginia Commonwealth University. New Orleans was forced out of the league in 1980 due to its small on-campus gymnasium that the Conference did not deem suitable for Conference competition. UNO competed as an independent before joining the newly formed American South Conference in 1987.

After the 1990-91 basketball season, all members of the Sun Belt, except Western Kentucky, South Alabama, and Jacksonville, departed for other conferences. The Sun Belt, including incoming member in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, then merged with the American South Conference, made up of Arkansas State University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), the University of Texas-Pan American (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), New Orleans (re-joined), Lamar University, and the University of Central Florida. Although the American South was the larger conference, the merged league retained the Sun Belt name. Central Florida left the league following the 1991-92 academic year. Lamar, Texas-Pan American, and Jacksonville departed at the end of the 1997-98 academic year. Florida International University joined the Sun Belt in 1998, and the University of Denver was added in 1999. Louisiana Tech departed after the 2000-01 academic year.

The conference did not sponsor football until 2001, when the league added former Big West Conference members New Mexico State University and the University of North Texas and former Ohio Valley Conference member (an FBS Independent on football) Middle Tennessee State University as full members (all 3 of them joined a year earlier for all sports in the 2000-01 school year) and added FBS Independent University of Louisiana at Monroe and Big West member University of Idaho as "football-only" members. These new members gave the Sun Belt seven football playing members in their first season, as Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette were already full members which sponsored football. Another Big West school, Utah State University, was added as a "football-only" member in 2003, then departed in 2005 with Idaho and New Mexico State for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

In 2004, Troy University became a "football-only" member until the Trojans joined the conference in all sports, effectively in the 2005-06 academic year. In 2005, Florida Atlantic became a "football-only" member until the Owls joined the conference in all sports, effectively in the 2006-07 academic year. In 2006, Louisiana-Monroe joined the conference as an all-sports full member when the Warhawks left their former home, the Southland Conference.

Longtime Sun Belt member Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt's football conference in 2009 after its Board of Regents voted to upgrade the school's football program to Division I FBS.

On November 11, 2009, New Orleans announced they were investigating a move from Division I to the NCAA's Division III. In order to maintain athletic scholarships, UNO instead opted for entry into Division II. On April 20, 2011, UNO officially rece ... [more on wikipedia]

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

Sun Belt Conference Details

Sun Belt Conference Details
detail value
conferenceSun Belt Conference
overall ROI rank[232
scores validTrue
Common Questions...

What are the academic rankings for Sun Belt Conference (Average)?

1. number - for Academics.

2. number 232 for ROI (Return on Investment).

What universities are similar to Sun Belt Conference (Average)?

1. University of Memphis

2. University of Toledo

3. Ohio University

4. Florida Atlantic University

5. Boise State University

6. University of California-Riverside

7. University of Akron Main Campus

National Academic Rankings

(summary of all ranking placements)

Sun Belt Conference National Academic Rankings

Sun Belt Conference National Academic Rankings
category rank scores difficulty smartest brainpower faculty research salary ROI overall ROI
Sun Belt Conference-34669767
Top Ten Sun Belt Conference-34668667

Peer Universities / Similar Universities

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

Sun Belt Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Sun Belt Conference

Sun Belt Conference Peer Universities, Similar Universities to Sun Belt Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
University of MemphisTennesseeAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAverage359314
University of ToledoOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage405285
Ohio UniversityOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage215174
Florida Atlantic UniversityFloridaConference USAPublicAverage305303
Boise State UniversityIdahoMountain West ConferencePublicAverage389329
University of California-RiversideCaliforniaBig West ConferencePublicAverage167212
University of Akron Main CampusOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage331251
Old Dominion UniversityVirginiaConference USAPublicAverage356368
Eastern Michigan UniversityMichiganMid American ConferencePublicAverage445385
Kansas State UniversityKansasBig Twelve ConferencePublicAverage249168
Illinois State UniversityIllinoisMissouri Valley ConferencePublicAverage279222
Oklahoma State UniversityOklahomaBig Twelve ConferencePublicAverage182124
Oakland UniversityMichiganHorizon LeaguePublicAverage417270
University of Nevada-RenoNevadaMountain West ConferencePublicAverage289340
University of North Carolina at CharlotteNorth CarolinaDivision I-AA Independents / C...PublicAverage292207
East Carolina UniversityNorth CarolinaAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAverage312325
University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeWisconsinHorizon LeaguePublicBelowAverage420367
University of LouisvilleKentuckyAtlantic Coast ConferencePublicAverage258224
CUNY Queens CollegeNew YorkEast Coast ConferencePublicAverage307400
University of Nevada-Las VegasNevadaMountain West ConferencePublicBelowAverage421449
Washington State UniversityWashingtonPacific 12 ConferencePublicAverage189193
Northern Illinois UniversityIllinoisMid American ConferencePublicAverage435289
Georgia State UniversityGeorgiaSun Belt ConferencePublicAverage253230
University of Hawaii at ManoaHawaiiMountain West Conference / Big...PublicAverage204245
CUNY Brooklyn CollegeNew YorkCity University of New York At...PublicAverage296394
University of Rhode IslandRhode IslandColonial Athletic Association ...PublicAverage270328
San Diego State UniversityCaliforniaMountain West ConferencePublicAverage183218
SUNY at AlbanyNew YorkColonial Athletic Association ...PublicAverage188218
Cleveland State UniversityOhioHorizon LeaguePublicAverage440299
Rutgers University-NewarkNew JerseyNew Jersey Athletic ConferencePublicAverage371392
Howard UniversityWashington DCMid Eastern Athletic ConferencePrivateAverage343429
Western Michigan UniversityMichiganMid American ConferencePublicBelowAverage446320
University of Nebraska-LincolnNebraskaBig Ten ConferencePublicAboveAverage11998
Middle Tennessee State UniversityTennesseeConference USAPublicAverage384372
Georgia Southern UniversityGeorgiaSun Belt ConferencePublicAverage254236
Auburn UniversityAlabamaSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage13979
Western Kentucky UniversityKentuckyConference USAPublicBelowAverage491433
Clemson UniversitySouth CarolinaAtlantic Coast ConferencePublicAboveAverage9851
University of New MexicoNew MexicoMountain West ConferencePublicAverage265153
University of ArkansasArkansasSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage171119
Mississippi State UniversityMississippiSoutheastern ConferencePublicAboveAverage197130
George Mason UniversityVirginiaAtlantic 10 ConferencePublicAboveAverage156143
Indiana University-Purdue University-IndianapolisIndianaThe Summit LeaguePublicAverage427342
West Virginia UniversityWest VirginiaBig Twelve ConferencePublicAverage320192
University of California-Santa CruzCaliforniaDivision III IndependentsPublicAverage157208
California State University-ChicoCaliforniaCalifornia Collegiate Athletic...PublicAverage392409
Kent State University at KentOhioMid American ConferencePublicAverage347358
Kennesaw State UniversityGeorgiaAtlantic Sun ConferencePublicAverage290291
University of Louisiana at LafayetteLouisianaSun Belt ConferencePublicAverage350248
Utah State UniversityUtahMountain West ConferencePublicAboveAverage165120

Academic Peer Universities / Similar Academics

(mathematically similar academics)

Sun Belt Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Sun Belt Conference

Sun Belt Conference Academic Peer Universities, Similar Academic Universities to Sun Belt Conference
match image university state conference public level rank overall ROI
Mountain West Conference (Low)-Mountain West Conference-Conf-Average-285
Big Twelve Conference (Low)-Big Twelve Conference-Conf-Average-178
St John's University-New YorkNew YorkBig East ConferencePrivateAverage309444
University of Michigan-DearbornMichiganWolverine - Hoosier Athletic ConfPublicAboveAverage312185
East Carolina UniversityNorth CarolinaAmerican Athletic ConferencePublicAverage312325
Portland State UniversityOregonBig Sky ConferencePublicAverage308408
CUNY Queens CollegeNew YorkEast Coast ConferencePublicAverage307400
Liberty UniversityVirginiaBig South ConferencePrivateAverage230248
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaPennsylvania State Athletic Co...PublicAboveAverage315361
Brigham Young University-IdahoIdahoNo Conference AffiliationPrivateAverage312164
Missouri Valley Conference (Average)-Missouri Valley Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-202
New England Football Conference (Average)-New England Football Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-320
American Athletic Conference (Low)-American Athletic Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-162
Great Lakes Valley Conference (Average)-Great Lakes Valley Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-227
Colonial Athletic Association (Low)-Colonial Athletic Association-Conf-AboveAverage-214
Westmont CollegeCaliforniaGolden State Athletic ConferencePrivateAboveAverage311400
Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association (Low)-Upstate Collegiate Athletic As...-Conf-AboveAverage-320
West Coast Conference (Low)-West Coast Conference-Conf-AboveAverage-258
New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (Low)-New England Women's & Men's At...-Conf-Good-161